07/09/2009 11:00PM

In Summation gets tune-up

Benoit & Associates
In Summation's last win came in the El Conejo at Santa Anita on Jan. 1 (left). He is using the McSorley on Sunday as a prep for the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar next month.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - In Summation launches his comeback Sunday at Monmouth Park in the $60,000 John McSorley Stakes.

The Grade 1 winner looms a short price in this 5 1/2-furlong overnight stakes on turf that attracted 11 runners.

The combination of trainer Christophe Clement and jockey Joe Bravo are always highly effective at Monmouth, going 6-3-2 from 16 starters at this meet. Blend In Summation into the mix, and you have a very formidable trio.

In Summation last ran in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita on Jan. 24, finishing fifth as the 2-1 favorite. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise productive six-race visit to California that included a one-length loss in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap, a race In Summation won by a nose in 2007. In Summation also finished third in the Grade 1 Ancient Title, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and scored a repeat victory in the Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap.

This is the tuneup for a return to Del Mar, and Polytrack, for this year's Crosby on Aug. 8.

"The timing works out good," Clement said. "I think he needs a prep race for the Bing Crosby. He's not completely there fitness-wise, but it's only going 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass."

Clement and Bravo will be looking for their third stakes win of meet, having captured the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes with All Is Vanity and the Choice Stakes with Laureate Conductor.

The presence of In Summation was a discouraging development for trainers banking on this being an easy spot.

Tim Hills, who sends out Our Friend Harvey, was hoping the Grade 3 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park on July 18 would help thin the ranks of grass sprinters. That wasn't the case as the McSorley has a solid lineup behind In Summation, including Cherokee Country, making his grass debut after finishing third to Kodiak Kowboy in the Donald LeVine Memorial at Philadelphia Park; Blue Sailor, 9 for 15 at the distance; and an uncoupled trio from trainer Linda Rice: Ahvee's Destiny, Awakino Cat, and Canadian Ballet.

Our Friend Harvey was a rallying second in the last year's McSorley with Bravo aboard.

"He got into a lot of trouble," Hills said. "He had to pick his way through the field. As big as this field is, it might happen again."

Most recently, Our Friend Harvey was the front-running winner of the Lure Stakes at Belmont Park on May 17.

"My horse is fresh, ready to go," Hills said. "It's a very tough race for $60,000."

Elvis Trujillo, Monmouth's leading rider, will be aboard.

Spruce Fir: Open Skies seeks repeat

Open Skies defends her title Sunday in the $60,000 Spruce Fir Handicap for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares going one mile and 70 yards.

A dominant front-running winner last year at 3, Open Skies faces eight rivals in only her second start of the season.

Open Skies stumbled badly and injured a foot in her final start last year, an overnight stakes at Belmont in October.

"We had to give her a lot of time for that," Hills said. "We planned on running her one time at Gulfstream Park, but that track was giving us a lot of trouble, so we put her back on the synthetic track in Ocala where she trains. We got kind of a late start with her."

Open Skies was third in her comeback, the Open Mind Handicap here May 31.

"She was definitely short the first time," Hills said. "She's had a couple of good works since then. She may be just a notch below 100 percent of her best. She is fit enough to be competitive."

- additional reporting by David Grening