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JERSEY SHORE PARTY
Partyallnightlong posted his second consecutive impressive win last weekend, capturing a first-level allowance sprint for statebreds by 6 1/4 lengths while not being asked to run at any point in the lane. Clearly, he's too good for statebred allowance runners, and trainer Eddie Broome is eager to find out exactly how good he is, so long as the son of Put It Back is ready when the time comes.
"We would really like to bring him back for the [July 4th] Jersey Shore, but it comes up fast, in about 16 days," said Broome, who owns Partyallnightlong along with Richard Malouf. "We'll make a decision in about a week."
Broome was pleased to see jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. take hold of Partyallnightlong into the stretch, allowing him to coast home well clear of an overmatched field.
"Marquez was smart enough to know not to really let him do anything late, knowing we had the race in mind in 16 days," said Broome. "The race really didn't take anything out of him."
Partyallnightlong finished third in his debut at the Meadowlands back in October, behind Afternoon Treat and T J's Back, a couple of horses left in his wake on Saturday. But Broome knew even then that better days were ahead for the bay colt.
"Last year we knew he had shin problems, but Mr. Malouf and I decided to run him anyway," said Broome. "He had a bucked shin going in, and then he really had a bucked shin after that race. It bothered him all year. He always showed he had a lot of ability, but we were more concerned with holding his shin together."
Broome has a logical fallback plan if the Grade 3, $200,000 Jersey Shore Stakes doesn't work out.
"If it doesn't work out we could also run him back in a two-other-than Jersey-bred race," he said.
That's not a bad consolation, considering that such a race carries a purse of $82,000 at Monmouth Park this year.
"It's the perfect year to have a nice Jersey-bred 3-year-old," Broome said.
It's no surprise that trainer Kelly Breen is off to a quick start with his juveniles. A protege of Ben Perkins Sr., a trainer who won at a high rate with 2-year-olds, Breen has always done well with firsters locally. But the enhanced purse levels this season has made winning early more lucrative than ever, and Breen has been doing just that, scoring with four winners through the first 14 days of the meet. That includes a pair of 2-year-old winners this past weekend, Sweet Ducky and Wild About Sonny.
"I call Sweet Ducky 'The Natural' - he just does everything so well," said Breen. "He's by Pulpit, so he's not supposed to be this good this early."
The next day, Wild About Sonny, a daughter of Officer, was a game winner in her debut, beating favorite Overseas Market by a neck.
"Wild About Sonny impressed me a little," he said. "She's had some issues breaking from the gate in her training, but she ran real well there."
Breen doesn't plan on being left out at all when it comes to the 2-year-old program at Monmouth this season. He has a barn full of juvenile runners, and if at all possible he'll be represented in every top-level maiden race at the track this year.
"I don't want to miss a maiden special weight 2-year-old race at Monmouth Park this summer," he said. "I plan on entering two horses in most races, in case one gets sick, pops a shin, runs a temperature, or whatever."
Breen's not just concentrating on sprinters, he's also got his eye on the two-turn maiden races scheduled later in the meet.
"We have some that are bred to go longer, so I'm not pushing them hard just yet," he said. "I'll wait for the mile races with them."
MORE RECORDS FALL
Another weekend of racing, another couple of records on the turf course. Last weekend two marks fell, as Rose Catherine went 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.20 on Saturday and They Call Me Giant broke his maiden going 1 1/8 miles the next day in 1:45.92.
This season, there have been seven track records broken on the grass course. The reason is the lack of rain in the area, which has made the course rock hard. Through the first 14 days of racing, not one turf race had been moved to the main track, and all but three of the 40 grass races have been run on either a firm or hard course.
SPEED RULES IN DOWD
Bernie Dowd Stakes on Sunday was one of the weirder races run here this year in terms of pace. In a field loaded with speed, stretch-out sprinter Evenings End was able to last late after a forward trip, and was never really in danger of losing the lead despite staggering home late. He was able to hold off Luna Park, another stalker, as the closers failed to threaten despite a fast early pace and a very slow closing fraction. This race alone is enough to prove that speed-types, if not aided by an outright bias, at the very least had an edge over closers on Sunday.
"This race was our goal from last year," said winning trainer Tim Kelly. "Everything worked to absolute perfection, which in this game is very rare. The jock worked him all winter long, which really helped a lot I think. I'm really proud of this horse."
The jock, incidentally, was Francisco Maysonett, who earned his first stakes victory.
PLANS FOR AFLEET EXPRESS
Afleet Express captured the Grade 3, $200,000 Pegasus rather convincingly last week. Ridden by Javier Castellano, Afleet Express stalked an early duel involving odds-on favorite Jackson Bend and Schoolyward Dreams before making his run on the turn.
The Pegasus, for years a centerpiece of the fall Meadowlands meet, was run at Monmouth for the first time this year due to the realignment of the New Jersey racing schedule. The positioning of the 1 1/16-mile event makes it one of the main preps for the Aug. 1 Haskell Invitational.
"We have to hugely consider the Haskell," said Jimmy Jerkens, who trains Afleet Express. "He handled everything well today, but there's a lot to figure out. Nothing is etched in stone."
Butch Reid, trainer of runner-up Afleet Again, is another who now has the Haskell in mind.
"We'll be talking about the Haskell in a couple of weeks," he said.
The July 10 Long Branch Stakes is the next local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell.
CROWDS KEEP COMING
The 24,262 on hand for Sunday's Father's Day was the largest non-Haskell regular season crowd at Monmouth since 2005. And that's a
legitimate number, not enhanced by fans buying five or 10 admission tickets in order to pick up multiple bobbleheads or blankets. Racing in New Jersey may or may not last in the long term, but the doomsayers who proclaim that Thoroughbred racing is not viable, and that the sport is dying, had to swallow hard after a look at that figure.
* The United Nations, one of only two Grade 1 races at the meet, will be run next Saturday, one of six stakes on the holiday weekend, which also includes racing on Monday, July 5.
HORSES TO WATCH
East to Eden
Trainer: Ramon Preciado
Last race: June 18, 3rd
Finish: 3rd by 4 1/2
Landed in a race with other speed, and she was caught up in a race-long duel. Still, she was able to hold well until late in the game, and she can wire the right group of first-level allownace routers if she can shake loose.
Trainer: Grant Forster
Last race: June 19, 7th
Finish: 3rd by 4 1/4
Rallied strongly here after racing well off the pace in a race lacking speed. Better set-up can make all the difference for her in her return, as she does have a solid late kick.
Trainer: Alan Goldberg
Last race: June 19, 11th
Finish: 3rd by 3
Just missed the place despite a difficult trip on the front end, as she set the pace under pressure and yielded only to a pair of closers, including Rose Catherine, who set a course record. Established turf sprinter will be tough if able to get clear.