07/02/2011 7:43PM

Monmouth: Teaks North defeats European invaders in United Nations

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Teaks North, with Eddie Castro riding, wins the United Nations.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – The Grade 1, $750,000 United Nations Stakes was a victory for the home team as Teaks North came roaring home Saturday to win the premier turf event of the season at Monmouth Park.

Teaks North is now a perfect 4 for 4 over the course at the track where he summers. This victory opened a range of vistas.

For starters, it was a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In challenge stakes. Teaks North now has a secure berth in the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in November.

The 1 3/8-mile U.N. also established that Teaks North can handle the distance. He had not run beyond 1 1/8 miles prior to the race, although trainer Justin Sallusto was confident that the maturing 4-year-old gelding was learning to rate and relax.

Teaks North backed up that belief.

“Many times you believe something but until the reality sets in, you don’t know for sure,” Sallusto said.

Now everyone knows.

BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Race schedule and list of winners »

The race unfolded as expected, with Pulsion, the rabbit inserted in the field to insure an honest pace for entrymate Belle Watling, grabbing the early lead with Sleepless Knight going along in second.

Teaks North was tucked fifth by Eddie Castro, waiting for his opportunity.

It came on the final turn as Teaks North angled three wide turning for home. Once freed, Teaks North was in full attack mode. He reeled in the highly regarded French mare Stacelita, the 2-1 favorite, who had taken a short lead following an extremely wide trip.

Teaks North poked his head in front for good a sixteenth of a mile from the finish and gradually edged away.

Chinchon, the other European runner in the field and the defending U.N. champion, came barreling home on the far outside to get second, a half-length behind the winner. Stacelita held on for third.

The time was 2:13.28 on the firm course. Teaks North paid $16 to win as the fourth choice in the wagering.

It was his second Grade 1 win this year to go along with the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, and it gave Sallusto a range of enticing options going forward after accepting congratulations and the trophy from Bob Levy and Jim Murphy, the old management team at Atlantic City Race Course where the U.N. originated.

The Sword Dancer at Saratoga is now in play, so is the Arlington Million. But for the moment, Sallusto savored the victory and the short walk back to his own barn.

“It’s much easier than taking an airplane or a van,” he said. “It was a big advantage, a home-court advantage.”

Jockey Garrett Gomez said Chinchon made a big late run after recovering from contact with Eldaafer.

“He put in his late kick, once he got his balance back,” Gomez said. “That bumping took a toll on him.”

Salvator Mile: Kensei upsets at 15-1

Kensei got his first win since the 2009 Jim Dandy, pulling off a 15-1 upset in the Grade 3, $200,000 Salvator Mile.

Always in the mix from the start as Rule set the pace under prompting from Morning Line, Kensei launched his bid three wide with a quarter-mile to run. He nabbed a short lead in midstretch and held off the onrushing Soaring Empire by three-quarters of length.

Edgar Prado was aboard for trainer Steve Asmussen as Kensei snapped a nine-race losing streak.

“He always shows good speed,” Prado said. “Today, he did the same thing. I didn’t take anything away for him. I let him run his race, and he was very comfortable.”

Kensei paid $32.40 to win the mile clocked in 1:36.83.

Rule held on for third.