09/18/2009 12:00AM

Weather the key to Presious Passion's prep


OCEANPORT, N.J. - It will be one Hirsch or the other as the final prep race for Presious Passion before the Breeders' Cup Turf.

The winner of the last two runnings of Monmouth's Grade 1 United Nations Stakes, Presious Passion will make his next appearance in either the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 3 or in the Clement Hirsch Turf Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 11.

Weather will play a large role in determining which Grade 1 stakes trainer Mary Hartmann selects. Brazen speed is Presious Passion's game, and he needs a firm course to be effective.

Last time out, Presious Passion caught a rain-softened course and finished a fading eighth in the Arlington Million.

Hartmann would like to stay closer to home for the Joe Hirsch but is prepared to travel.

"If the turf is soft or yielding, he's not running in New York," Hartmann said. "We've had enough of that. It's hard to get a firm course around here at this time of year. I'd like to run in the Joe Hirsch and then ship out to California, but you have to be flexible."

If the Clement Hirsch becomes the fallback, Presious Passion would then remain at Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup.

Presious Passion will be rested for either race.

"He usually runs well fresh," Hartmann said. "And he will have nice fresh legs for the Breeders' Cup."

The United Nations was a Win and You're In Breeders' Cup Challenge race, guaranteeing Precious Passion a spot in the Turf on Nov. 7.

It will be Presious Passion's second trip to Santa Anita this year, having run second in the Sunshine Millions Turf in January.

Slow meet for the Sleeter family

There were wide smiles in the winner's circle last weekend after Talkin About Love came storming through the slop to win the off-the-turf Revidere Stakes.

It was one of the few bright spots this meet for the Sleeter family, usually a dominant force at Monmouth with a strong lineup of New Jersey-breds.

It was only their fourth win of meet from 74 starters.

"It's been the quietest summer we've ever had here," said Kevin Sleeter, the owner, breeder, and trainer of Talkin About Love.

Some of their young horses didn't come through this year. Talkin About Love was typical of their veterans. The 5-year-old mare had run well with three seconds and a third in four starts at the meet before coming through with her first win of the season.

"It picked the whole barn up," Sleeter said.

Her next start will likely come in the $75,000 Cozy Lace Stakes at Philadelphia Park on Oct. 17.

Cohen plans to ride at Meadowlands

David Cohen, the leading rider at the current Delaware Park meet, will head up the Jersey Turnpike this fall to ride nightly at the Meadowlands, according to agent Bill Castle.

Cohen has 121 winners from 455 mounts at Delaware Park, giving him a 38-win lead over Anna Napravnik.

Following the conclusion of the Delaware meet on Oct. 26, Castle said his plan is to have Cohen ride days at Aqueduct and nights at the Meadowlands before settling in full time at Aqueduct for the winter.

Cohen's 219 winners this year rank him fifth nationally. His mounts have earned $5.2 million in purse money, which puts him 25th nationally.

Castro returns day after spill

Eddie Castro was back in action Friday at Monmouth, one day after escaping serious injury when Thiefontherun, the 1-5 favorite in the first race, broke down 70 yards from the finish.

Castro, who was pitched hard to the track, initially reported chest pains but declined a trip to a local hospital for precautionary X-rays. He took off the remainder of his Thursday mounts.

Entering Friday's card, Castro was second in the standings, trailing Elvis Trujillo 123-107.

Theifontherun shattered his right front ankle and was euthanized on the track.

- additional reporting by David Grening