06/05/2009 11:00PM

Pace minor hurdle for Social Queen

Email
Justin N. Lane
Social Queen will try to overcome a lack of pace once again in the Eatontown.

No pace? No problem.

Stone closer Social Queen overcame a lack of early speed in the field to win the Grade 3 Gallorette Handicap on the turf at Pimlico last time out, and she'll look to pull off the same stunt Sunday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Eatontown Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Javier Castellano, aboard Social Queen when she was third in the Beaugay at Belmont two starts back, will ride for trainer Alan Goldberg.

Social Queen's effort in the Gallorette proved that she doesn't need any help from the front-runners, and she won't get much in the Eatontown, which is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf. She does have the home-field advantage in her favor, though, as she's won 4 of 6 starts over the Monmouth turf. She is the defending Eatontown champion, having won the race by a neck last year with a strong late surge over Chestoria. That mare, making her 10th straight stakes appearance, is back Sunday.

All Is Vanity, trained by Christophe Clement, is another runner looking to even the score with Social Queen. She looked like a winner in the stretch of the Gallorette but couldn't hold off a charging Social Queen, missing by a head. Her tactical speed should work to her advantage in the Eatontown.

Ariege won an allowance race at Keeneland last time out by controlling the tempo from the start, but she's hardly a pure speed type - she simply took advantage of a lack of early zip in that race. Given her inside post and the expected pace scenario in the Eatontown, the Bobby Frankel-trained Ariege may again find herself dictating the fractions.

Another runner with a bit of a pace edge is Elusive Lady, who comes off a dull effort in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs, which was run over a soggy course that she may not have cared for.

Elusive Lady is winless in five tries on the grass, but her Beyer Speed Figures fit well enough and a forward trip may give her first run on the closers for trainer John Kimmel.

* Sunday's supporting feature is the $70,000 Rumson Stakes, for 3-year-olds at six furlongs. The horse to beat, despite a seven-month absence from the races, is Royal Vindication, who finished third in the Grade 3 Nashua in November at Aqueduct.