09/24/2009 11:00PM

Wet track could boost Precursor


A forecast that called for rain Saturday night into Sunday could benefit Precursor when he makes his stakes debut in the $70,000 Big Brown at Monmouth Park. The 1 1/16-mile dirt race for 3-year-olds is the closing-day feature on a 10-race card and drew a field of six.

It's also Fan Appreciation Day, with free grandstand admission and half-price admission to the clubhouse.

Precursor, a $500,000 purchase as a 2-year-old, needed eight starts to win his maiden but has shown an affinity for sloppy surfaces. He romped by nearly 13 lengths to win an off-the-turf route at Belmont Park and overcame a poor start to clear his first allowance condition in June at Monmouth.

A son of A.P. Indy, Precursor also comes from highly successful connections. Trainer Tom Albertraini has gone 16 for 54 (29 percent) for Darley Stable this season. That percentage climbs to 40 percent (8 for 20) in stakes.

Lord Justice, who has been idle for 2 1/2 months, and Bunker Hill, getting class relief after displaying trouble getting away from the gate in a pair of graded stakes, both are stakes winners who have shown they can handle wet tracks.

Lord Justice, trained by Todd Pletcher, went wire to wire in his first start off the layoff to win the Spend a Buck locally in late May. He cruised by more than 10 lengths over a muddy track to win his maiden last fall.

Pletcher, who has won at a 16 percent clip at Monmouth this season, has gone 7 for 27 (26 percent) with the 3-year-olds he has run in routes following a break of 61 to 180 days the past two years, according to DRF's Formulator.

Bunker Hill, far back in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby and the Grade 1 Haskell, won the $100,000 Go for the Green over a wet track at Delaware Park as a 2-year-old. He's 0 for 6 this season, however, and was well-beaten by Lord Justice in the Spend a Buck.

Doc's Friend and Pitched Perfectly show front-running route wins over wet tracks and figure to contribute to an expected hot early pace with Lord Justice. Both Doc's Friend and Pitched Perfectly were badly beaten, however, when they were stepped up to stakes company earlier this season.

Blank Check returns to the main track at Monmouth, where he won back-to-back starts, after racing on turf at Saratoga.