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Joey P Seeks Fourth Reilly Victory

John Petrini’s Joey P., one of Monmouth’s standout favorites since he broke his maiden here in August of 2004, has not been seen in action here since May 23 of last year, when he won the John J. Reilly Handicap for his third score in the event for New Jersey-breds.

But the 8-year-old returns to action on Saturday to top a field of 14 state-breds in the six-furlong Reilly ‘Cap, which this year carries a $100,000 purse, its highest ever.

After winning last year’s Reilly, Joey P. was getting ready to head south looking for a repeat victory in the Charles Town Dash in June. But on the day he was scheduled to ship to West Virginia, trainer Ben Perkins Jr. discovered the horse was in serious distress in his stall.

Joey P. had suffered a severe colic attack, and required surgery to correct the twisted intestine. But he made a full recovery and returned to the races in December. 

“His first race back (on Dec. 8) was not typical,” Perkins said. “You could see he didn’t have his full strength back yet. But he came to himself by mid-January, and he’s been acting right ever since.”

In February, Joey P. won an allowance sprint at Aqueduct, his 17th career win in 39 starts, and a score that put him over the $1 million mark in career earnings.

“He made a remarkable recovery from the surgery,” Perkins said. “You wouldn’t even know he had a problem. You can see he looks a little older now, but he’s as sound as ever, knock on wood. He’s been great that way his whole career.

“He’s a pretty special horse,” Perkins said.

Joey P., a homebred son of Close Up * Luckey Lipco, by Luckey Jin Beau, comes into the Reilly off one of his worst efforts ever, a 7th place finish in the Webb Snyder Stakes at Charles Town on April 17. But he has an excuse.

“For whatever reason, he missed the break,” Perkins said. “He sort of lunged out of the gate, and all his weight was on his front legs. He scrambled to get back in stride, but at four and a half furlongs, you miss the break, you’re done.”

Perkins said that after that race, he’s been schooling Joey P. in the gate here.

“He’s always been a good gate horse, but he also had some trouble in the start before at Aqueduct, so we’ve been working with him, standing him in the gate.”

Joey P. shows just one breeze over the Monmouth track this spring, a half-mile in :48 4/5 on May 10.

“I would have liked to get one more breeze into him, and didn’t get the chance,” Perkins said. “But he’ll be the same old Joey P. in the Reilly.”

In the Reilly, where he breaks from Post 11, Jersey Joey P. will be teamed again with Jersey Joe Bravo. The two have collaborated to win 12 of 24 starts together.



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