06/22/2012 2:54PM

Monmouth: Sacco senses Voodoo Dancer sitting on big effort in allowance


OCEANPORT, N.J. – Trainer Greg Sacco will be a very busy fellow on Sunday with seven horses entered for the 12-race card at Monmouth Park.

“Some of the races were in the condition book and some were extras,” Sacco said. “They were just races that were there for us. We’re not pushing any spots. We’re not putting any square pegs into round holes.”

Of the seven, Sacco is most enthused about Voodoo Charm in the 11th race, a first-level allowance sprint.

A New Jersey bred 4-year-old, Voodoo Charm as run exclusively at Monmouth. He is 4-2-0 in 8 races, including a win in the New Jersey Breeders Handicap last September.

Having exhausted his statebred conditions, Voodoo Charm is now tackling open company. He was a rallying fourth earlier this month, his first race of the season.

Sacco expects an even better effort Sunday.

“He had dynamite form last year and his comeback race was very good,” Sacco said. “He was in dire need of the race, and he’s had a great work since the race. We expect him to fire on all cylinders. He was about 85 percent ready for the first race, and he got a lot out of that race.”

Intensivist launches his comeback in a second-level allowance at six furlongs, the ninth race on the card.

After a poor outing at Parx Racing in February, he was gelded.

This will be the shortest he has ever run.

“We’ll give it a whirl at the three-quarters,” Sacco said.

Silent Appeal with be stretching out in the seventh, a second-level allowance at one mile, 70 yards.

This will be his second race of the campaign, having returned in the six-furlong John J. Reilly Handicap for New Jersey breds.

“He got behind a wall of horses in the Reilly and didn’t like the dirt in his face,” Sacco said. “He’s stretching out into a competitive race, but I think he’s set for a good effort also.”

The other Sacco runners are Darling Bridezilla in the 2nd, first-timer Sambuca Steve in the 5th, Holmedancer in the 10th and Misspartypants in the 12th.

Weekend promotions attracting crowds

A goal of the new Monmouth management team is to turn the track into a major Jersey Shore weekend attraction from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

So far, so good.

The latest evidence came last weekend when the “Take Dad to the Races” promotion on Father’s Day drew 27,532 fans.

“That day has always been strong,” said Bill Knauf, vice president, business operations. “We’ve really seen a jump in the last few years.”

That topped the meet’s previous high of 23,020 for the first Food Truck Wars on May 27.

“Our next step is teaching them how to bet,” Knauf said. “In a perfect world, we’d want to have one of these days every weekend. Certainly, you’ll have some down weekends, but it’s reasonable to build up those days to 15,000 to 25,000 people on a Saturday or Sunday on every weekend.”

Much of the promotional thrust centers on food and drink, such as a crab cake competition and beer and wine festivals.

With so many tracks struggling to draw patrons, Monmouth is bucking the trend. Attendance is averaging 11,085, an 8 percent increase compared with last year.

To accommodate the growth, Monmouth management is considering expanding the picnic area by tearing up some of the surrounding blacktop and replacing it with more grass and shaded tables.

“We’ve introduced a lot over the last five years, and they are hard to get off the ground,” Knauf said. “It’s nice to see they are picking up steam.”

Get Serious, Roman Tiger eye Red Bank

Get Serious and Roman Tiger, a pair of Monmouth-based horses, are on target for the Grade 3, $100,000 Red Bank on July 4, one of the top events of the holiday week.

Get Serious will be looking for his first win since capturing the 2010 Red Bank.

He has run twice at the meet, finishing sixth in the Elwood Stakes before a third most recently in the Monmouth Stakes.

“He bounced out of the last race really good,” said Pat McBurney who shares the training with John Forbes. “We’re hoping to catch a good steady lick like we did two summers ago, and a firm turf course.”

Roman Tiger was seventh in the Monmouth Cup and owner-trainer Dennis Manning blames himself for running a short horse.

“He wasn’t tight enough,” Manning said. “The last one is on the trainer. The next one is on him.”