07/06/2011 1:48PM

Monmouth Park: Ward sees Pleasant Prince as set for big effort

Barbara D. Livingston
"He's just a sweetheart of a horse," trainer Weley Ward said of Pleasant Prince.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Wesley Ward told owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey that the multiple derby-winning Pleasant Prince might need a start or two to get going this season.

A 4-year-old chestnut colt, Pleasant Prince certainly needed that first race, a seventh-place finish at Churchill Downs on May 21.

Ward expects forward progress Friday in the $54,000 third-level allowance with optional $50,000 claiming at Monmouth Park.

“I think he’s going to run better,” Ward said. “He’s kind of a big, heavy horse. Hopefully, it will be a lot better than his initial performance.”

Pleasant Prince, with Elvis Trujillo aboard, will be one of six runners in the one-mile and 70-yard feature.

He has been training over the synthetic track at Keeneland since the Churchill start and shipped into Ward’s Monmouth barn on Tuesday night.

The comeback race was Pleasant Prince’s second straight at Churchill Downs, where he closed out last year’s campaign with a ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Before that, Pleasant Prince had enjoyed a very productive campaign, banking $530,788. His two wins came in the Ohio Derby and the Oklahoma Derby. He also hit the board several times, most notably in the Florida Derby where he missed by only a nose to Ice Box.

The major concern in this spot is distance. The one mile and 70 yards might be a bit short for a colt who loves to pick off horses in the lane.

“It’s a little short,” Ward said. “He’s also a very good horse. I’m hoping that he can overcome that. He’s just a sweetheart of a horse. He got a lot out of that first start. I’m hoping he get back into form, because he’s such a cool dude. I’m looking forward to getting this guy going.”

The race also includes Ron the Greek and Thomas Got Even, the third and fourth finishers in the off-the-turf Three Coins Up overnight stakes at Belmont Park on May 19.

Ron the Greek, winner of last year’s Lecomte at the Fair Grounds, makes his debut for trainer Peter Walder. Paco Lopez will be aboard.

The presence of Hermosillo and Endymion should ensure an honest pace. A veteran of the New Jersey-bred handicaps, Hermosillo was third most recently in the Bernie Dowd after laying down opening fractions of 22.61 and 45.94 seconds.

Hockley, second in the rained off Elkwood Stakes in late May, completes the field.

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