Updated on 09/17/2011 11:14AM

The timing's right for Tenpins


OCEANPORT, N.J. - The $200,000 Philip H. Iselin Handicap comes at an ideal time for Tenpins and trainer Donald Winfree.

Winfree likes to give Tenpins at least a month between starts. With Winfree aiming for the Grade 2, $750,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup on Sept. 28, the Grade 3 Iselin Saturday afternoon at Monmouth Park offered an ideal interval. He considered the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward at Belmont Park on Sept. 6, but the timing was a little snug for his taste.

"He's a big, long, lanky horse and we've taken our time with him," Winfree said. "If you lean on him too much, he tends to drop his weight."

A different timing factor also entered into Winfree's decision to head to the Jersey Shore: too many years between trips to Monmouth.

Winfree looked content sitting on a bench outside Jamie Woodington's barn in the isolated Elkwood section of the Monmouth backstretch.

He greeted old friends who stopped by to reminisce about the mid-1980's, when Winfree ran a division at Monmouth every summer. He won the Sorority, Monmouth's premier 2-year-old filly stakes, with Lazer Show in 1985. But he had not run a horse here since 1988.

Winfree, who is based in Kentucky, sounded like he would love to be a Monmouth fixture in the future.

"If I have a nice bunch of horses next year, I'd like to come back next summer," Winfree said. "I really enjoy it here. It's comfortable."

Winfree returned to Monmouth with a key contender for the track's premier handicap event on the main track.

Tenpins, winner of the Grade 3 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Prairie Meadows in his last outing, carries high weight of 119 pounds for the 1 1/8 miles. Robby Albarado will ride.

He takes on one of the strongest Iselin fields since Skip Away captured the 1998 renewal.

Saarland (117 pounds) takes a class drop following a boxed-in sixth in his latest effort, the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.

Saarland's finest moment this season was a game second, beaten only a neck, in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont.

The Iselin also features a rematch between Vinemeister and Jersey Giant, the first two finishers in Monmouth's Salvator Mile.

Vinemeister (114) aims for consecutive wins as he ventures beyond one mile for the first time.

Jersey Giant (115) has emerged as one of the top older New Jersey-bred runners, competing effectively in open company.

Aeneas (114), Country Be Gold (112), Private Lap (115), Runspastum (114), and Sherpa Guide (114) complete the field.