Monmouth kicks off its 66th season of
Thoroughbred action Saturday with the $75,000 Decathlon Stakes for older horses as the feature,
and Daniel J. Ljoka’s Awesome Son looks like he’s ready to be in front the
entire six furlongs.
The 4-year-old son of Sapling winner Pure Precision, trained
by Tim Kelly, broke his maiden here as a 2-year-old in 2009, and last year won
a claiming race and a very competitive allowance event in front-running
The only question would seem to be his readiness to start after
being on the sidelines since last July. But Kelly has no reservations about
“He’s ready right now,” the trainer said with no “buts” in
his voice. “He doesn’t need a race to be at his best. He was working lights-out
at Gulfstream, and he’s working the same way here.”
Awesome Son will likely be third choice in the betting
Saturday, behind This Ones for Phil and Wildcat Brief, who hold a class edge
over Kelly’s runner. But both those runners are coming back after long layoffs
and might not be able to catch a dedicated front-runner.
“The only thing I could ask for is a little rain,” Kelly
said. “A muddy track would really give my horse an edge.”
Awesome Son won three straight last year – two at Monmouth
and a stakes race at Penn National – but hasn’t raced since July 31.
“We had him sold,” Kelly said. “But when the buyers vetted
him, he had a small chip in his left knee. So we kept him, had the chip taken
out and turned him out on the farm in Florida
for the winter.
“In April, I brought him to Gulfstream Park,
and he’s been training great ever since,” Kelly said. “He’s ready for this.”
Another Monmouth regular with a Decathlon starter is trainer
Ben Perkins Jr., who will saddle Wildcat Brief. The 5-year-old son of Forest
Wildcat, bred by New Farm, races in the name of Ben Perkins Sr., one of the
all-time leading trainers at Monmouth until his retirement a decade ago.
Wildcat Brief, who won the Icecapade Stakes here last
September and finished third in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont on Oct.
2, has not been out since he finished fifth in the Bold Ruler Stakes last Oct.
“We kept him up north all winter,” Perkins said, “and with
all the bad weather, his training got a little backed up. But he’s been doing
great recently, especially since he got to Monmouth.
“Of course, you always want another work before they start,
but he’s ready to roll,” Perkins said.