01/01/2011 3:41PM

Monzon storms from last to first in Count Fleet

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Monzon, making his first start on dirt since winning his maiden at Laurel Park four starts ago, rallies to upset the Count Fleet.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The first Saturday in January is a long way from the first Saturday in May, but the connections of Monzon can allow themselves to dream about a potential trip down the Triple Crown trail after their 3-year-old gelding rallied from last to win the $65,000 Count Fleet Stakes by one length over J.J.’s Lucky Train at Aqueduct.

It was 3 1/2 lengths back to Pants on Fire, who got third by a head over Arthur’s Tale. Tap Star and Rush Now, the 2-1 favorite, completed the order of finish.

The victory was the third in six starts for Monzon, a Maryland-bred son of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch owned by Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Farm. He is now 2 for 2 on dirt, having won a maiden race at Laurel by 12 1/2 lengths in August.

Monzon had been running on turf ever since, with some success. Originally under consideration for Saturday’s Tropical Park Derby on turf at Calder, Monzon instead was kept closer to his Maryland home because that race was ungraded. According to trainer Ignacio Correas IV, Monzon was going to return to the dirt at some point anyway.

Under Edgar Prado, Monzon, racing with blinkers off for the first time, lingered in the back of the pack while Pants on Fire and J.J.’s Lucky Train dueled on the lead through fractions of 23.46 and 47.52 seconds. J.J.’s Lucky Train, under Jose Ferrer, drew away from Pants on Fire turning for home, but Monzon was launching his bid around the turn. Despite lugging in, Monzon took the lead inside the sixteenth pole and was in hand at the wire. Monzon covered the mile and 70 yards in 1:42.42 and returned $14.40 to win.

“He still maybe is a little green, he has things to learn, but tell you the truth we don’t know the limits of him yet,’’ Correas said. “We can dream and that’s good at this stage.’’

Correas said Monzon would return to Sagamore Farm in Maryland but likely ship back to New York for the $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes here on Feb. 5.

Interborough: Nicole H dominates

Nicole H began 2011 right where she left off 2010 – in the Aqueduct winner’s circle.

Sitting fourth early under Ramon Dominguez, Nicole H split horses outside the eighth pole and exploded past pacesetting Meese Rocks to win the $65,000 Interborough Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths. Meese Rocks held second by 1 3/4 lengths over Purrfect Bluff. Bob’s Dylan and Quiet Mover completed the order of finish.

Nicole H, a daughter of Mr. Greely owned by GEM Racing and trained by Mike Hushion, covered the six furlongs in 1:10.71 and returned $2.80 as the 2-5 favorite.

While Dominguez was hoping Nicole H would relax, he wasn’t expecting to be fourth early on.

“I thought I’d probably lay second,’’ Dominguez said. “I wasn’t happy being boxed in. Two races back when she ran on the inside she didn’t seem to like it, but it was good to see that it probably didn’t matter today. She was just much the best.’’