09/17/2011 5:36PM

Monmouth Park: Voodoo Charm rallies strongly to beat older rivals in New Jersey Breeders' Handicap

Voodoo Charm rallies to beat Arctic Air by three-quarters of a length in the New Jersey Breeders' Handicap.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Voodoo Charm emerged as a rising star in the statebred ranks with a rousing victory in the $60,000 New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap on Saturday at Monmouth Park.

The NJ Breeders was one of three stakes on New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival Day, a 12-race card exclusively for statebreds.

Voodoo Charm, a 3-year-old colt and the least experienced runner in the field, rallied strongly in the lane to beat Arctic Air by three-quarters of a length with Chris DeCarlo aboard.

It was a big step forward for an unassuming horse who is 4 for 5 at the meet.

“He’s not a work horse in the morning,” trainer Greg Sacco said. “He’ll only work if I put another horse next to him or he’ll work a half in 52 [seconds]. But he’s kind on himself, and he’s a smart animal. He’s improved with each and every start.”

It started with a maiden win on opening weekend and built from there with the Beyer Speed Figures improving with each race.

The NJ Breeders was Voodoo Charm’s toughest test, facing five well-seasoned sprinters.

As expected Dabnabit, winner of the last four New Jersey sprint handicaps, bounded right to the lead while Unwritten and Arctic Air kept him company. Voodoo Charm, sitting fourth, was part of the second flight.

Turning for home, Dabnabit started to fade as Arctic Air took command. Gearing up four wide on the turn, Voodoo Charm rallied on the far outside and closed relentlessly.

“It was a question mark facing the older horses, and there were a couple of fast horses in the race,” Sacco said. “That’s why I am so proud of his effort today.”

With some of the statebred veterans like Joey P. fading from the scene, Voodoo Charm could be a new star in the division.

“I think he’s going to be better as a 4-year-old,” Sacco said. “He’s lightly raced. We’ll savor this win. I think it will be a couple more starts and then we’ll shelve him until Monmouth starts next year.”
Voodoo Charm paid $4.40 to win. The time was 1:10.71 for six furlongs on the fast track under overcast skies.

Hop Skip and Away came on to get third, followed by Dabnabit, Unwritten, and Together Indy.

Hesse: Hermosillo gets another upset

Hermosillo pulled another upset in the $100,000 Charles Hesse III Handicap, the richest of the three stakes.

The 7-year-old gelding won the 2009 Hesse at 35-1. He returned 9-1 for his second victory in the 1 1/16 miles stakes. Both times, Hermosillo won on the front end.

Chuckie Lopez was aboard for trainer Steve DiMauro as Hermosillo held off 17-10 favorite Goombada Guska by 1 1/4 lengths, with Gunfighter third.

After a slight bobble at the break, Hermosillo set the pace along the inside with prompting from Gunfighter and Hung Jury.

“We’re pretty comfortable with the horses we’ve been running with,” DiMauro said. “We’re used to them, and I’m sure they’re used to us. We felt, being on the inside, we’d have to be aggressive early.”

Gunfighter took his best shot on the final turn but could not get past the pacesetter.

It was the first start for Hermosillo since July 31, a gap DiMauro blamed on the inability to find a spot.

“We just couldn’t get a race to go,” DiMauro said. “We entered him a few times. That was the only reason.”

The freshening didn’t compromise Hermosillo as he won for the ninth time, pushing his career earnings to $537,731.

Hermosillo paid $20.20 to win. The time was 1:44.64.

Who’s the Cowboy was fourth, followed by At the Disco and Hung Jury.

Jersey Girl: Karmageddon overcomes stumble

Karmageddon recovered from a stumble at the break to launch a strong inside move in the stretch, beating Little Stitch by 2 3/4 lengths in the $60,000 Jersey Girl Handicap for filly and mare routers.

Primarily a sprinter, Karmageddon handled the stretchout with style for her first win in six starts this year.

“I’ve always thought she could go long,” trainer Doug Nunn said. “All year, she’s been running one paced. I thought if there was a time to do it, this would be it.”

Angel Serpa was aboard as Karmageddon ($11.60) ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.36.

* With the state racing schedule dwindling, the New Jersey Racing Commission sent layoff notices to more than 20 employees last week. Monmouth’s associate state steward Harvey Wardell Jr. was among those dismissed.