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Racing At The Jersey Shore

Flat Out Returns at Monmouth Park Saturday

On Saturday, July 7th two graded stakes races will be run at Monmouth Park, both are races that have been adopted from other tracks in the Garden State. Going as race 10 will be the one mile $200,000 Monmouth Cup (G2) which used to be known as the Meadowlands Cup and was run at that North Jersey track which now specializes in standardbred racing. Race 11 is the mile and three-eighths United Nations (G1) which moved to Monmouth’s turf course from the Atlantic City Race Course in 1999.
 
Some of racing’s best won the Meadowlands Cup when it was run at its original distance of a mile and a quarter. Spectacular Bid won in 1979 on his way to the three year-old championship. Wild Again took the Cup in 1984 and went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Alysheba was victorious in 1988 and became Horse of the Year.
 
The United Nations, which was first run in 1953, has been won by 13 horses which have gone on to earn the grass championship. To name a few of them:  Round Table 1957 and 1959, TV Lark 1960, Mongo 1962 and 1963, Fort Marcy won in 1969, Dr. Fager 1968, and Manila 1986 and 1987. Since the move to Monmouth the significant winners have been:  Better Talk Now 2005 and English Channel 2006 and 2007.
 
The 2012 edition of the Monmouth Cup marks the sixth time the race has been contested at the Jersey Shore. The Monmouth Cup was not run in 2011, but this year features the return of Flat Out. Flat Out will be ridden in his first start for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott by Jersey girl Rosie Napravnik. Last year, while trained by Charles "Scooter" Dickey, Flat Out won the Suburban (G2) with a 113 BSF and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).  In between those two wins were second place finishes in the grade one Whitney and Woodward. In 2011 Flat Out won $1,195,283.  The six year-old Flatter horse was transferred to Mott after two lackluster performances at Gulfstream. Flat Out has not run since February has been training in Saratoga.
 
Flat Out faces five rivals who are stakes winners, but only one has a graded stakes victory.  Todd Pletcher sends out a pair of challengers  in Rule and Sloane Ranger. Pletcher talked about his two runners, “We gave Rule a bit of a freshening after last year to gear him up for the summer and fall campaigns. I think the distance of a mile will be good for him in his first start back. San Pablo is a nice horse who is very competitive and always runs hard. He’s in good form now.”  Rule has won over $1,000,000 in a career, which includes grade three wins in the Delta Jackpot and the Sam F. Davis.
 
The United Nations last year featured a third place finish for 2011 grass champion Stacelita, who was making her first American start against the boys.  That race was won by the Monmouth Park based Teaks North. This year’s field features a field of seven, which are all stakes winners and five of them have won graded events.
 
The local horses are Eldaafer and Freud's Honour.  Eldaafer, who is trained by Diane Alvarado, won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon and returned to the races in 2012 with a troubled second place finish in the Brooklyn Handicap (G2). Eldaafer scratched out of an overnight stake at Delaware last week choosing to go in the UN.
 
Pletcher trainee Turbo Compressor comes in to the race after winning the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup in Virginia. Jersey Joe Bravo, who is a master turf rider, guided Turbo Compressor to a gate to wire victory.
 
The now eastern based rider Joel Rosario will ride Brilliant Speed for trainer Tom Albertrani. Brilliant Speed’s last win came in September 2011 in Saratoga’s Saranac (G3). Since then he has been battling against the nation’s best turf horses.
 
David Flores comes to NJ to ride Slim Shadey. The horse has three straight second place finishes after winning the San Marcos (G2) at Santa Anita in February. In the May Turf Classic at Churchill Downs he finished a half-length ahead of Brilliant Speed on a wet grass course.
 
My picks: The Monmouth Cup is loaded with speed and this should help Flat Out make a triumphant return to the races.  In the United Nations I will be rooting hardest for Eldaafer, trainer Alvarado told me that the turf is his best surface, but I think California based Slim Shadey will find the rock hard Monmouth turf course to his liking. 

 

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Al Khali is my underneath key in the trifecta.
Upset alert in the U.N. ... I've said it before, do not sleep on Al Khali!

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Meet Matt Shifman

In the 70’s I was another one of those kids that went to the track with their fathers, and I immediately became enthralled with the excitement and challenges of handicapping.  And then the charisma and dominance of Secretariat gave me a hero to follow. To this day, I still get emotional when I hear Chic Anderson’s call of the 1973 Belmont, “Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine”.

 
There have been many great horses run at the shore. In 1976 I watched Majestic Light win the Monmouth Invitational, now the Haskell, in track record time, defeating Honest Pleasure, the big favorite who was in from New York.  This was one of my first big wins at the track.
 
In the 80’s, as a disciple of Andy Beyer, I made my own speed figures because they were not available to the public. Needless to say I visited Monmouth frequently to test out the “figs”.
 
The 90’s allowed me to learn about the backstretch as a part owner of a few claimers that were stabled at Philadelphia Park.  Not a typical owner, I mucked stalls, cooled out the horses, and watched morning works.  Also, I met my wife and discovered that her grandfather bred, owned, and raced thoroughbreds on the West Virginia, Maryland circuit.  Today our office is decorated with winner’s circle pictures and a vast collection of Kentucky Derby glasses.
 
Today’s electronic age makes it so easy to gather information about racing.  I hope you use this blog to learn about Racing at the Jersey Shore.