05/26/2010 11:00PM

Presious Passion back to work


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Presious Passion bounced back nicely from his trip to Dubai, according to trainer Mary Hartmann. He will head back to work in the Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes on June 12, the race Presious Passion captured last year as the prep for a second straight victory in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes.

The 7-year-old gelding has had one breeze, an easy 52 seconds at Monmouth on May 17, since running 16th as the 3-1 favorite after setting the pace in the Dubai Sheema Classic on March 27. His next work will be Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

"He got a break for six weeks, and then he resumed training," Hartmann said. "He was really none the worse for wear. He's a good traveler."

Presious Passion proved that last year with trips to Santa Anita, winning the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Stakes and finishing a close second in both the Breeders' Cup Turf and the Sunshine Millions Turf.

As for Hartmann, she found Dubai "an interesting experience."

"I had a wonderful time but I don't think I'd go again," she said.

While Hartmann had no issues with the hospitality in the desert, she is still upset over the condition of the turf course. Hartmann said it was excessively watered, compromising Presious Passion, who needs a firm course to support his front-running style.

"If the turf was firm, I don't think they would have caught him," Hartmann said.

After Dubai, Presious Passion returned to Hartmann's barn at Gulfstream Park. He is not the kind of horse who benefits from farm freshening.

"He likes to stay at the track," Hartmann said. "He likes his routine. Two or three years ago, we turned him out and he just did not do well."

Gambolati has game plan

Cam Gambolati made three trips to the winner's circle here on Sunday.

One was planned. As usual, Gambolati made the presentation to the winning connections of the Spend a Buck Stakes, named for his 1985 winner of the Kentucky Derby.

He was back twice more after saddling Jet Set Vinny ($9.40) and Dip the Facilitator ($77.80) to wins.

A fast start at Monmouth is unusual for Gambolati. This is a different year, with big money on the line in a limited season.

"Coming up from Florida in the past on a year-round schedule, I was never in a hurry here," Gambolati said. "I've learned here you have to be ready when they start running, In the past, I was basically not ready."

Gambolati changed his outlook, keeping some horses on the shelf at Gulfstream to prime them for Monmouth.

"I passed up races in Florida to be ready," Gambolati said. "I knew this was going to be tough and fortunately there were races for my horses. This just happened to work out. I never ran four in the first weekend like I just did. Everything is working right, and maybe I learned a little bit, too."

Marquez mending

One moment, you're on top of the world, having ridden three winners on the opening day card at Monmouth.

The next you're in an ambulance, rushing to a local hospital with a possible major pelvic injury.

Carlos Marquez Jr. experienced those highs and lows, all in span of one hectic afternoon last Saturday.

Marquez counts himself lucky, having escaped with deep bruises but no fractures after Back Pocket Money reared unexpectedly as the horses lined up before heading to the starting gate before the eighth race.

"He gave me no warning," Marquez said.

When the horse reared, he clipped Marquez in face, stunning the rider as he fell to the track.

"I saw stars," Marquez said. "That's why he stepped all over me. Otherwise, I would have managed to roll a little bit."

Marquez wound up with deep bruises on both sides of his hip. He was released from the hospital that same evening but was too sore to ride on Sunday.

Come Monday morning, Marquez was back galloping horses.

"You can't wait," Marquez said. "We got off to a good start. We have to keep it moving."

After the opening weekend, Marquez is third in the Monmouth standings, only one win off the pace set by John Velazquez and Joe Bravo.

Lopez, Trujillo fined

Paco Lopez and Elvis Trujillo each paid $3,000 fines for careless riding infractions on the opening-day card.

The stewards have adopted a new policy this year of giving riders the option of taking days, or paying a stiff fine for their first infractions of the meet. That option will not be offered for subsequent penalties.

According to state steward Steve Pagano, the change was made cut down on a growing backlog of appeals. With Monmouth offering $50 million in purses over a 50 day summer meet, riders have a strong incentive to appeal any suspensions. If they lose the appeal, they would take the days during a less lucrative time of year.

Lopez was aboard Roman Tiger, who was disqualified from second to fourth in the Elkwood Stakes. Trujillo rode R J's Prospect, third placed fourth, in the 13th and final race.

* The claim box was smoking on the opening weekend with 30 horses claimed over the first two days of the meet. Many were "shakes," multiple claims entered on the same horse with the new owners decided by lot.