Updated on 09/16/2011 7:50AM

Werner hits his stride - and it's swaggering


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Ronny Werner likes to have a little swagger during a race meet. With little success through the first month of the Monmouth meet, his first summer stabling here, Werner was still searching for his swagger.

But with a four-race winning streak, dating from July 7 and running through Thursday, Werner said he has the swagger back. So far this meet, he has 5 wins in 16 starts.

Werner's specialty since switching from training Quarter Horses to Thoroughbreds several years ago has been 2-year-olds. This meet he has three wins in juvenile races, the most of any trainer here. He sent out a winner in juvenile maiden special weights on Wednesday and Thursday, and with 2-year-old races starting to fill, expect more of the same.

"Everything's starting to work out now," Werner said, adding that winning streaks like the one he's on come in waves. "I needed to feel out the meet a little bit in the beginning and see where our horses fit. Our babies got sick and I couldn't run as many as I wanted to. But they're over that and races are coming up now that fit our horses well."

Three-year-old Driving Hennessy's victory on July 7 set the wheels in motion for Werner's current winning streak. On Wednesday, he sent out Most Feared to a win in the first juvenile route of the meet. Thursday, Sure as Shootin won a five-furlong maiden race over one of the tougher fields of the meet.

Werner's stable at Monmouth has been enhanced in the last few weeks with six additions from his Churchill Downs barn. And the operations of the Texas-born Werner, 45, expand every year with his principal owner, Dallas-area car dealer Tom Durant, purchasing more yearlings and 2-year-olds. Werner, who drove 16 hours on Thursday from the Fasig-Tipton Keeneland Sale to Saratoga and then to Monmouth for the weekend, said Durant purchased four yearlings total from the Wednesday and Thursday sales.

Sunday Break on Haskell fence

With the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational two weeks away, challengers to War Emblem are starting to line up.

On Friday, trainer Neil Drysdale said Sunday Break, third in the Belmont Stakes, is "on the fence" for the Aug. 4 Haskell. Drysdale had said a few weeks ago that he was leaning toward the Haskell. Sunday Break is also under consideration for the Grade 2 Jim Dandy run at Saratoga the same day. Drysdale said he would make a decision by the end of next week, depending on which horses point for each race.

Sunday Break has been doing very well since the Belmont. "It's definitely an advantage to have a lightly raced horse at this point in the summer," Drysdale said from Belmont. "He's a late-developing colt and has been getting much stronger since the Belmont."

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem is scheduled to ship into Monmouth on Wednesday, July 31, for his start in the Haskell.

Also expected for the nine-furlong Haskell are Long Branch Stakes winner Puck and Magic Weisner, depending on his performance in the Ohio Derby on Saturday. Came Home, winner of the Swaps, and Nothing Flat, second in the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont, are also strong possibilities.

Ahoy there, Skipper's Mate!

Trainer Eddie Gaudet said turning for home in the ninth race for maiden juvenile fillies Wednesday, someone turned to him and said Skipper's Mate, about 10 lengths behind the front-runners, didn't look like she would close enough ground to win.

Gaudet replied, "She hasn't even starting running yet."

Gaudet was right, as 10-1 Skipper's Mate closed like a freight train to storm by the leaders, including 4-5 J's Crafty Cat, to win going away by four lengths in the five-furlong race. The way she closed behind moderate fractions was very impressive in arguably the toughest 2-year-old filly juvenile race this meet.

"Her stride is twice her size," Gaudet said. "I don't get high on horses, but the first day I got her I knew she was a nice filly."

Skipper's Mate's breeding is outstanding, and based on that she should be able to get longer distances in the future. She is part of Skip Away's first crop to race, and out of the multiple graded-stakes winning mare Power Play, who earned almost $500,000. She was bred by Doc Leonard, who put her in the Keeneland September yearling sales last year. With no takers, Leonard bought her back for $25,000.

Gaudet owns half of the filly (Leonard owns the other half) and he first received her in March at his Bowie, Maryland, stable. Gaudet said she would be pointed for the Colleen Stakes here Aug. 3 in preparation for the Grade 3 Sorority Aug. 25.

"She came to me as a little runt, but has really grown into herself," Gaudet said. "She's so calm, such a well-tempered filly. Nothing bothers her."

* The Sunday card is without a stakes race, as the $50,000 Bates Motel did not fill, but the 10 races - all of which are allowance or maiden races - are solid. Trainer Steve Morguelan, who entered Blackjack Boy in Saturday's Tyro, saddles Leelanau in the eighth race, a two-other-than allowance at six furlongs. He won the Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup over Gygistar last year as a 2-year-old, and ran third in his first start in over a year on June 16 at Churchill Downs.