06/24/2014 12:05PM

Thursday, Friday tips for Delaware, Monmouth


This week is the calm before the holiday storm as the only stakes scheduled in the Mid-Atlantic are relatively minor ones at Monmouth Park and Delaware Park. Both of those tracks will take a big step forward on the national calendar over the July 5-6 weekend when Monmouth puts on the Grade 1 United Nations (July 6) and Delaware serves up its Grade 2 Oaks (July 5).

Still, as of Tuesday morning there were some interesting races to take a look at early in the week:

Delaware, Thursday, June 27

The featured race is the $50,000 Stanton Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The field of 13 includes four exiting the $100,000 James Murphy Stakes on the Preakness undercard, including impressive winner Wallyanna. Watch the weather, though, as there is a chance of thunderstorms Wednesday evening that could change the complexion of this race.

Other interesting contests on the card include:

* Race 3: A turf maiden race in which trainer Michael Matz sends out Sumba Sunset, a $385,000 Keeneland yearling buy who just missed in her second career start. She will be making her first start since January.

DRF FORUMLATOR FACT: Matz has a $2.25 ROI the last five years bringing 3-year-olds back on turf following a layoff of between 60 and 180 days.

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* Race 7: Jamie Ness has a potent Midwest Thoroughbreds entry in this first-level allowance sprint. Cee ’n O, the stronger half of the entry, won at this level last time out at Pimlico but was disqualified and placed second for ducking out sharply in front of his closest pursuers nearing the sixteenth pole. Be advised that Cee ’n O was allowed to set an uncontested – and very slow – early pace in that race and is unlikely to be able to get away with that Thursday.

Monmouth, Friday, June 27

The three best races on the card are a second-level, $30,000 optional claimer at five furlongs on the turf (race 9), a 2-year-old filly maiden race at five furlongs (race 6), and a New Jersey-bred 2-year-old $50,000 maiden claiming race at five furlongs (race 3).

A horse to pay particular attention to is Skirt Stake in the J-bred maiden race. Bred and owned by Laurie Plesa and trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., she is a half-sister to Flay Mignon, who last year started her career by winning a $100,000 statebred maiden race. Flay Mignon went on to defeat open company in the Colleen Stakes at five furlongs on turf and win the restricted Jersey Juvenile sprinting on dirt.

Plesa sharpened Skirt Stake up with 36.40-second gate work June 21, and runaway leading rider Paco Lopez is named to ride.

Although $50,000 is nothing to sneeze at for an unstarted J-bred, it is a bit surprising she is in for a tag to begin her career.

* In the featured optional-claiming turf sprint, trainer Jason Servis brings back Ju Ju Eyeballs, a highly successful claim, off an eight-month layoff. Servis claimed Ju Ju Eyeballs out of her final 2-year-old start in December 2012 for $15,000 and ran $169,000 out of her last year while winning two sprint stakes at Monmouth – including one at the distance/surface of Friday’s race. In her 2013 finale, she finished third in the Maryland Million Distaff Handicap after leading in the stretch.

Just as with Skirt Stake in race 3, it is notable that Servis has entered her for the $30,000 claiming option, the only way she could possibly be eligible for a race at this level.

Upcoming Mid-Atlantic stakes

Thursday, June 26
Delaware: $50,000 Stanton Stakes

Saturday, June 28
Monmouth: $75,000 Lighthouse Stakes

Sunday, June 29
Monmouth: $75,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes

Wednesday, July 2
Mountaineer: $75,000 Firecracker Stakes
Mountaineer: $75,000 Independence Day Stakes

Friday, July 4
Finger Lakes: $50,000 Genesee Valley Breeders’ Stakes
Monmouth: $75,000 Elkwood Stakes

Saturday, July 5
Delaware: Grade 2, $300,000 Delaware Oaks
Delaware: Grade 3, $200,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial
Delaware: $50,000 Carl Hanford Memorial Stakes
Delaware: $50,000 Oh Say Stakes
Monmouth: $100,000 Long Branch Stakes
Finger Lakes: $50,000 Jack Betta Be Rite Stakes

Sunday, July 6
Monmouth: Grade 1, $500,000 United Nations
Monmouth: Grade 3, $150,000 Salvator Mile

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