06/30/2010 11:00PM

Monmouth roundup

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WHO'S HOT

Joe Bravo's still got it. A 13-time leading rider at Monmouth Park, he was again atop the standings here after seven wins last week. Bravo had 26 wins at the meet, eight more than Paco Lopez, who was in second. Garrett Gomez is heating up, having won four races in two days, including the two stakes Saturday. Eddie Castro won three of the last four races Sunday and had 12 wins at the meet after a 4-for-70 start.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. had five wins from nine starters over the last two weeks and was tied with Todd Pletcher in the trainer standings with 10 wins. Terri Pompay won with four of her last nine runners at Monmouth entering Friday's card, and Nick Zito had won with four of his last 10. Mike Maker was 6 for 11 at the meet.

WHO'S NOT

Carlos Marquez Jr. has cooled a bit after a sizzling start, going 2 for 40 in the last two weeks. Pedro Cotto Jr. was 0 for 25 in that span. Local trainers who were still looking for their first win at the meet include J. Willard Thompson (0 for 39), Dennis Manning (0 for 25), and Kevin Sleeter (0 for 17). Pat McBurney is 2 for 2 with Get Serious but was 0 for 33 otherwise.

STAKES RECAP

Strike It Rich shook loose in the early stages of the Grade 3 Boiling Springs on Saturday and won a stakes race over the grass for the second time at the meet. She captured the Little Silver here last month, also in front-running fashion.

If you played the Boiling Springs and thought there would be more speed in the field to set up the closers, such as favorite Bay to Bay, you were not alone.

"I thought [Island Time] would be on top, but I found myself on the lead," said Garrett Gomez, who rode Strike It Rich.

"Nobody went with the other horse," Alan Garcia, who was aboard Bay to Bay, said of Strike It Rich. "My horse ran on really well, there was just no pace in front of me."

Gomez also rode Malibu Prayer to victory in the Lighthouse Stakes. Malibu Prayer took advantage of a forward trip to score, and though Just Jenda was up close early on, she couldn't stay with the winner late. She lost the place to Luna Vega late to finish third, her first loss in four tries at Monmouth.

"Around the far turn, I let her go a little, and she responded, handled the turn well, and had plenty for the finish," Gomez said of Malibu Prayer.

Way With Words just keeps rolling, winning Sunday's Blue Sparkler Stakes with a determined late run to catch Saarlight, who seemed to have the race won with 100 yards to go.

"She always tries her hardest, and thankfully today she had enough to get there," said Mary Eppler, who trains Way With Words.

Way With Words has eight wins at Monmouth Park, including six stakes races.

The $100,000 Crank It Up, a turf sprint at 5 1/2 furlongs, was loaded with pace and figured to be won by a horse who could rate off the pace and make one run. That turned out to be Greeley's Rocket, who sat a perfect trip behind the duel and drew off late. Whoopi Kitten, coming off a debut score on the main track, gamely saved the place despite racelong pressure. She seems to have a bright future, whether it be on grass or dirt.

OTHER RACES TO NOTE

Friday, June 25: Front-runners held the edge in sprint races on the main track. All four races at six furlongs were won by either the horse on the lead or, in the case of first-time starter Laird Road, a half-length off the leader. According to an informal poll, among the few bettors who had the winner were a guy who plays No. 7 in the first race every day and hunch players from Colts Neck, N.J., which has a street called Laird Road. Laird Road was 65-1 despite facing what looked like a very soft group.

Woodbine shipper A Little Wild blew out the locals in race 2, aided by the bias and the fact there was little speed in the field. He did, however, earn an 86 Beyer, and the average winning figure for filly and mare conditional $5,000 claimers is 58.

El Corriente benefited from a rare double-DQ in the race 5. He finished third but was elevated to first when Notoriety and Full Robbery, one-two across the wire, were taken down. El Corriente was the second winner on the card out of the first race June 4; Habano Cigarro captured Friday's third race.

Myakka City impressed for the second straight start, drawing off to win race 9 easily. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89 and is clearly ready for better after winning for $40,000 here. Myakka City is still eligible for second-level allowance conditions, and that is where she may wind up the next time one of those races fills here.

Saturday, June 26: A lack of speed in the opener helped Lighthouse Sound wire the field. He won't be so lucky next time without another ideal setup.

Our Edge posted a 100 Beyer in winning race 3, an optional claimer, when he shook loose and controlled the pace. He is another horse worth playing against next time if he lands in a race with some pace.

La Mousse captured race 6 as the odds-on favorite, but she was all-out late and this was not a stellar group. She could have trouble handling the mandatory rise after beating nonwinners of three lifetime here.

The 11th race was lacking in pace, and that made Wide Open Road's deceptively good late rally all the more pertinent. He has had success over this track and can run down the right group if he is given at least a little help up front.

Sunday, June 27: Wesley Ward is, of course, lethal with 2-year-old firsters, but when the Ward-trained Voodoointhevibes hovered between 5-2 and 2-1 in the opener, that was a bad sign. The first race drew a very modest group of seven, and if Voodoointhevibes could run at all, she figured to be much shorter than that as soon as the betting started. She ended up at 6-5, but that was late, desperate money, and she didn't look like a winner at any point. Happy Jo caught Wildly Lana on the wire as Joe Bravo rode the winner hard from the top of the stretch.

Quick Ride looks like a nice claim for Terri Pompay. A 3-year-old colt, he won race 7, his second straight victory, and earned an 87 Beyer in beating $22,000 nonwinners of two. He may be ready for better.

The 11th came up very slow; the winner, Trini Dunai, earned a 51 Beyer. Par for statebred fillies and mares going a mile here is 77.

VEGAS BABY!

Johnny Colin beat 232 other contestants to win the $100 Monmouth/Woodbine Handicapping Challenge on June 20, qualifying for a spot in the 2011 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. It was the first time Colin, a casual handicapper for 25 years, had entered a handicapping contest.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

Super Saver, the winner of the 2010 Kentucky Derby, will make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational.

Trainer Todd Pletcher and WinStar Farm teamed to win back-to-back Haskells in 2006 and 2007 with Bluegrass Cat and Any Given Saturday.

The traditional local Haskell prep, the $175,000 Long Branch Stakes, will be run next Saturday.

HORSES TO WATCH

Super Doc

Trainer: Patricia Farro

Last race: June 26, 1st

Finish: 4th by 3/4

Up against the race flow for the second consecutive time, he nearly won this one anyway, closing nicely and just missing despite running behind a controlled pace in the early stages in a race lacking speed. He will be tough in the lane if given any kind of help from the pacesetters.

Bay To Bay

Trainer: Brian Lynch

Last race: June 26, 9th

Finish: 2nd by 1 1/4

She is looking like a top 3-year-old filly turfer after this latest try, closing for second in the Boiling Springs after racing well off the controlled early pace. The early fractions were slow, and the final split was exceptionally fast, making it very tough to make up ground, but she was moving noticeably well through the lane.

Wide Open Road

Trainer: John Tammaro

Last race: June 26, 11th

Finish: 4th by 5 3/4

Off the board here, but he was rallying well late and has had success over this strip in the past. The lack of speed in this field made it tough on the stretch-runners, but he was closing well after the issue was decided. He will be dangerous if he gets decent fractions next time.