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Baby Racing Returns to Monmouth Park

The day that many Monmouth Park horsemen and fans eagerly await has arrived: The first baby race of 2010 will be run as the third event on Saturday’s program.


Monmouth’s summer meeting has provided an abundance of memories to savor over the past 64 years, but for many who follow the action in Oceanport, the highlight of any season is the 2-year-old racing, where hope springs eternal and they’re all champions going into the gate for the first time.


Saturday’s first juvenile event of the new Elite Summer Meet should live up to the grand tradition of high standards on the Jersey Shore, with 10 fillies entered to begin their careers.


Trainer Kelly Breen sends out a talented entry composed of Sleepless Dixie and A Brilliant Idea, both owned by George and Lori Hall.


Sleepless Dixie, who was purchased for $205,000 at last year’s Keeneland September Sale, is out of the Cherokee Run mare Dream About, and thus a half-sister to Sleepless Knight, who won the Lamplighter Stakes on turf here last year. The filly was sired by Dixie Union, who captured the Haskell Invitational in 2000.


A Brilliant Idea, by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Afleet Alex out of the Saint Ballado mare Rutledge Ballado, was a $55,000 purchase from the same sale.


Breen, whose Monmouth maiden winners have included such stakes winners as West Side Bernie, Bickersons and Nacho Friend, has a high regard for all Monmouth maiden winners.


“Monmouth is as tough as it gets for maiden races,” Breen said. “If you think you have a really good one, there are always going to be a couple of other good ones in there. You win a race here, you know you have a good horse.”


Trainer Todd Pletcher will have his first debut starter of the season in Repole Stable’s Stopspendingmaria, a Montbrook filly who brought $90,000 at the Ocala sale this February.


One of Pletcher’s 2009 maiden winners at Monmouth will also be in action on Saturday. Interactif, who won at first asking here last July 5, is in with a chance to upset the Belmont Stakes, final jewel in racing’s Triple Crown.


The locally trained contingent in Saturday’s race includes a pair from trainer Tim Kelly, an entry from Wesley Ward, and a first-timer from Patrick Biancone.


Kelly entered two owned by Daniel Ljoka, both purchased at last September’s Eastern Sale. Tomica’s Spirit and Sopchoppy have been training steadily over the local surface.
The two trained by Ward, who has gained a reputation as a whiz with juveniles, are Princess Zip and New Tomorrow. This will be the second start for both. Princess Zip ran third in her Belmont debut, and New Tomorrow was second at Woodbine in May.
Biancone, who won the Haskell Invitational here with Lion Heart in 2004, and is now stabled at Monmouth for the first time, looks like he has a quick one in Flying Zee Stable’s Show Me the Bling. The gray daughter of Too Much Bling tuned up for her debut with a bullet half-mile in :48 flat from the gate here Tuesday.


The field is completed by a couple of Maryland shippers trained by Dane Kobiskie. Warmwoolenmittens and Battle M’s Seattle have both been training at Bowie for their debuts.


Every season sees some really good juveniles come out of Monmouth maiden races. Last year’s group included Piscitelli, who finished second to Interactif in his debut and went on to run fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Bickersons, who won the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park and this year took the Grade 2 Forward Gal at Gulfstream.
The fact that really good horses come out of Monmouth maiden races is well-documented. Since the 1960s, eight champions and a host of major stakes winners have gotten their start right here.


The champions who came out of Monmouth maiden races were Tosmah (1963), Candy Éclair (1978), Lord Avie (1980), Open Mind (1988), Dehere (1993), Holy Bull (1994), Skip Away (a champion in 1996, 1997 and 1998), and Smoke Glacken (1996).


To prove that Monmouth baby races are very tough, there are a couple of noteworthy first-time losers. Dark Mirage, 3-year-old champion (filly or colt) of 1968, lost her first start here, and Top Knight, champion 2-year-old of 1968, lost his initial outing.

 

 

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