08/17/2009 11:00PM

Trust Luc steps up to test open company


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trust Luc has carried the day for trainer Tim Kelly this summer at Monmouth Park, banking more than $80,000, largely at the expense of fellow New Jersey-breds.

A 3-year-old who rapidly marched through his statebred conditions, Trust Luc will now try to continue his sharp form against open company Thursday in a $41,000 first-level allowance at six furlongs.

This can be a challenging transition, from restricted to open company.

"It is a tough one," Kelly said. "They run some good Beyer Speed Figures, but he fits right in."

Trust Luc has been in a steady Beyer groove, ranging from 76 to 80 in the last three races. He has two wins and a second in that span, using his sharp early speed as an effective weapon.

"I would think he's probably going to be on the front end," Kelly said. "Some of those other guys are quick, but I think Luc is a little bit quicker. If he gets loose, those other guys are in big trouble."

Kelly points to a pair of New York-breds, Please Impress and Benny the Waiter, as two of the tougher opponents.

Please Impress, trained by Rick Dutrow, has won his last two starts, both off-the-turf $25,000 claimers.

Benny the Waiter earned more than $140,000 last season, exclusively against New York-breds. A 4-year-old gelding, Benny the Waiter made his season debut last month at Saratoga, finishing well up the track against open first-level sprinters.

With a record of 2-2-0 in 5 starts here this meet, Trust Luc is no slouch on a track surface he enjoys.

"He's been our meal ticket this summer," Kelly said. "He's doing great. He's run his eyeballs out in all his races. There is some stiff competition in here, but I think he's up to it."

Kelly also nominated Trust Luc to the $60,000 New Jersey Breeders' Handicap on Sunday, part of the annual New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival for statebreds.

"Right now, we're sticking with the allowance race because it looks like a good spot," Kelly said. "We kept our option open with the stakes because, if this race didn't go, that was a secondary option. Since this race went, it looks like we're staying put. He's just a 3-year-old, so we'll have plenty of time for the New Jersey-bred handicaps down the road."