07/07/2009 11:00PM

Presious Passion aiming for BC Turf


OCEANPORT, N.J. - A second consecutive win in the United Nations Stakes last weekend gave Presious Passion another pass into the Breeders' Cup.

This time, it looks like he will accept the invitation.

The U.N. was a Win and You're In stakes, ensuring Presious Passion a spot in the BC Turf at Santa Anita.

Presious Passion's camp decided to pass on the California trip last year, feeling the trip would be too taxing at the end of a demanding campaign.

Fears about a coast-to-coast trip were alleviated when the Florida-bred Presious Passion headed west to Santa Anita in January, finishing second in the Sunshine Millions Turf.

"We weren't sure about the trip and the course," said trainer Mary Hartmann. "Now that's he done it, I don't think it will be a problem. Now we have to set up a schedule to get us there."

The next stop will likely be either the Sword Dancer at Saratoga on Aug. 15 or the Arlington Million at Arlington Park on Aug. 8.

As for the U.N., Hartmann said Presious Passion came out of the front-running victory "perfect. He's not even tired."

Papa Clem gets feel for the track

Papa Clem, the Arkansas Derby winner, tops the field for the $175,000 Long Branch Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday.

The Long Branch, the traditional prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 2, will be Papa Clem's first race since he ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby and sixth in the Preakness.

Papa Clem had his final Long Branch tune-up here Monday, five furlongs in 1:03.40.

"He's not a real good work horse unless I work him in company," said trainer Gary Stute. "I just wanted to let him have the feel of the track and look around. He came back good from it. That was the important thing."

Papa Clem will have a new rider Saturday in Elvis Trujillo, Monmouth's leading jockey. Rafael Bejarano, Papa Clem's pilot for the last six races, will remain in California.

It has been a long time since Stute was on the Jersey Shore. He shipped in with a few horses for his dad, Mel Stute, including Test Stakes winner Very Subtle in 1987.

"Julie Krone was still riding when I was last here," Stute said. "Jimmy Croll was among the top trainers. Time certainly flies."

The other runners entered in the 1 1/16-mile race are Atomic Rain, Despite the Odds, Lord Justice, Nowhere to Hide, Omniscient, Rapid Redux, and Santana Six.

Nothing new at commission session

The Commission on the Horse Racing Industry created by New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine held its second meeting Wednesday morning at Monmouth.

Composed of state legislators, horsemen's representatives, and racetrack and Atlantic City casino executives, the commission is tasked with developing a report by July 1, 2010, recommending a course of action for the state's struggling racing industry.

No new ground was broken at the latest meeting as the battle lines remain clearly drawn. The horsemen want slot machines, or other forms of gambling, to provide a secure revenue stream for purses.

Currently, purses are supplemented by a $30 million annual subsidy from the casino industry in the second year of a three-year agreement that bars the tracks from lobbying for slots.

The casinos are fearful that additional gaming within the state would damage their investments in Atlantic City.

"The state of New Jersey and its leadership made a determination and acquiesced to the casinos by not implementing [slots]," said state Sen. Jennifer Beck in one of the sharpest exchanges of meeting. "We accepted that loss of revenue and, in turn, you offered subsidies to the horse racing industry. The reality is that $800 million that the state of New Jersey could have realized, has not been realized."

* There will be free food, drinks, and games Monday at the 18th annual Backstretch Appreciation Day Picnic. The event, from noon to 3 p.m. in the picnic area at the top of the stretch, is open to all members of the track's backstretch community and their families. Co-chairmen Danny Perlsweig and Kevin Weldon expect a turnout of more than 2,000.

* Stewart Elliott will be at Fort Erie on Sunday to ride the filly Milwaukee Appeal in the Prince of Wales Stakes.