Updated on 09/15/2011 12:17PM

Will Navesink's talent be enough?


Monmouth Park opened Saturday for its 56th season, but the real business of stakes racing begins Sunday at the New Jersey shore track, with the $100,000 Jersey Derby, the first of 15 graded races scheduled for the 72-day meeting. Nine 3-year-olds entered the Grade 3 race.

With rain all week and more expected over the weekend, it's unlikely the turf will be firm for the 1 1/16-mile race - if it remains on grass.

Navesink, who has made only two starts, will try to overcome his inexperience in the Jersey Derby. Navesink is trained by Alan Goldberg, who thinks the colt has a bright future. Goldberg, who has won with 39 percent of his starters this year, said he will start Navesink only if the race stays on turf.

Last year, Navesink won a maiden race at Laurel Park, and he didn't run again until May 9, when he won a preliminary allowance race at Belmont Park under a hand ride. Navesink earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure for his 2 1/2-length win.

Goldberg said that Navesink, an Irish River colt, didn't train well this winter in Florida, but is now "doing fantastic" at his farm in Colt's Neck, N.J.

"I love him," said Goldberg. "I just wish they would cancel [the race] if it can't be run on grass and wait till next week."

Ramon Dominguez, who rode Navesink in his maiden win, rides from post 6.

Conversely, trainer Mark Hennig is saying bring on the rain for Mystic Lady, a supplemental entry and the lone filly in the field. She is by far the most accomplished member of the field, with wins in graded stakes on dirt and a stakes placing on turf.

Hennig will run Mystic Lady only on dirt.

"The mud really moves her up even more," Hennig said. "I'm not looking to run against colts on grass, but if it comes off, it might not be too tough and might be a small field."

Filiberto Leon rides Mystic Lady, who has early speed, from post 1.

Sir Brian's Sword, trained by Christophe Clement, was a strong winner of his 2001 debut in the Citation at Hialeah on the turf. He also has shown good form on dirt, having won his debut by 10 lengths over Calder's main track.

Mongoose never has raced on turf. In his last start, Mongoose finished ninth in the Arkansas Derby, which was run in the slop. Trainer Bill Mott has added blinkers to Mongoose's equipment.

Completing the field are Moomtazz, Potaro, Punkin Head, What's Your Wish, and Woody Haze.