07/05/2008 12:00AM

Notional pulls Mile surprise

Email

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Notional, a Triple Crown contender last year until a fractured leg sent him to the sidelines, reemerged Saturday with a stirring win over Gottcha Gold in the Grade 3, $300,000 Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park.

The win in the Breeders' Cup Challenge Win and You're In race assures Notional a berth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita in October.

It had been a long time since Notional, winner of the San Rafael and Risen Star stakes and the runner-up in the Florida Derby last year, was in the spotlight.

Notional ($17.80) beat Gottcha Gold, the 4-5 favorite, by 2 1/4 lengths with Honest Man third. The time was 1:35.84 on the fast track.

Gottcha Gold used an upset win in last year's Salvator as a springboard to a stellar season. This time, the tables were turned.

As usual, Gottcha Gold took the lead and set an aggressive pace with Eddie Castro aboard in place of the injured Chuckie Lopez. Notional, ridden by Joe Bravo, ranged into contention on the turn and took charge at the top of the stretch. Gottcha Gold battled back but could not repel the challenge.

Notional made his debut for trainer Mark Hennig, having been sent east from California by owner J. Paul Reddam.

"Mark Hennig had him ready to run," Bravo said.

Maddy's Lion runs down Joey P.

Maddy's Lion ($10.80) rallied relentlessly to beat Joey P. by a neck in the $79,500 Mr. Prospector Stakes.

The 6-year-old Maddy's Lion, making his first start for trainer Greg Sacco, ranged into contention on the turn and continued that run down the center of the track to collar the always tough Joey P.

"I got a great trip," said jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. "Every time he's gotten beat, they went 22 and 45 up front. This time it was 21 and 44 and that did it."

Joey P., 12 for 20 at Monmouth, set a brisk pace under pressure from Mr. Umphrey and Hombresactlikemens, clicking off fractions of 21.85 and 44.46.

Joey P. disposed of those pace rivals turning for home and appeared on his way to another victory at his favorite track until Maddy's Lion came rolling.

"He's a one-run horse," Sacco said. "I left it up to Carlos. The pace was blistering. When he made his move, it was electrifying."