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Just Call Kenny Stretches Out in Long Branch

Monmouth Park 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
With only three weeks until the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational, preparations are kicking into high gear with this Saturday’s Long Branch Stakes, Monmouth’s last major prep race for the summer’s centerpiece. Trainer Pat McBurney will send Just Call Kenny in search of his second straight stakes victory and third win in only his fourth career race.

“He’s been training fantastic,” said McBurney. “He’s doing everything we’re asking of him and I feel like he’s on top of his game right now.”

A 3-year-old colt by Jump Start out of the Green Dancer mare Green Jeans, Just Call Kenny was victorious in his last race, the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 4, where he sprinted six furlongs in 1:10 2/5, besting the field by just over two lengths. Just Call Kenny will stretch out in the Long Branch, which is set for a mile and a sixteenth along Monmouth’s main track.

“He’s just got an explosive turn of foot in him for a big old horse,” McBurney said. “His pedigree says long and that’s what we’re really hoping, that he’ll take the two turns and still be able to give us that kind of a kick. He’s bred to go long and he’s given every indication that he’ll do well with it. He listens to our rider and waits for the rider to tell him go so I think he’s going to love the distance.”

Racing in the colors of ABL Stable, Bossone, Cahill, Donnely, and PHF, Just Call Kenny will face tough competition in search of the winner’s share of the $100,000 purse. Among the competitors are stakes winners Meadowood and Tiz’naz, as well as Todd Pletcher’s Misconnect, the 5/2 morning line favorite. Just Call Kenny will break from post-seven in a field of eight other 3-year-olds.

“First time back after a long off a layoff normally a horse would be kind of fresh,” McBurney said, “but he listens to the rider really well so we’ll just have to leave it in Julian’s (jockey Pimentel) hands. As long as he’s going along comfortably in the first part we’ll see if he can kick in. We would have liked to see a little more speed in there but there are a couple that look like they’ll go to the front.”

Although Just Call Kenny is just getting started in his racing career, McBurney has high hopes for his young horse. 

“For ABL Stable and all the partners being New Jersey guys obviously the Haskell is the jewel of our summer,” McBurney said, “so we’d love to be invited to that.”

The Long Branch is scheduled as race 11 on Saturday’s 12-race card.




The Elkwood Stakes is set as Monmouth Park’s Fourth of July feature race at a mile on the turf, and David Jacobson, Monmouth’s current leading trainer, has entered both Slim Shadey and Spa City Fever. With some wet weather anticipated for Thursday night into Friday morning, Jacobson plans to run Slim Shadey if the race stays on the grass and Spa City Fever if it moves to the dirt.

A 6-year-old gelding by Val Royal out of Vino Veritas, Slim Shadey will try to bounce back from an off the board finish in the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes on June 8 if the Elkwood stays on the turf. Since his last race he has worked once, breezing three furlongs in: 39 4/5 on July 2 at Aqueduct.

In the more likely event that the race comes off the turf, main track only entry Spa City Fever will return to the dirt after trying grass at Belmont in his last outing, where he finished out of the money in a seven furlong allowance race on June 14.

“Spa City is a nice horse,” Jacobson said. “He’s been very consistent for us. We tried him on the grass last time, and he didn’t take as well to the grass as he has to the dirt, so I’m looking for a big race out of him.”

An 8-year-old gelding by Roaring Fever out of Lady Di Huntley, Spa City Fever looks to add the winner’s share of the $75,000 purse to his lifetime earnings of $556,618 for owners Drawing Away Stable and Jacobson. Spa City Fever will break from the outside in an overflowing field of 17 that have entered the Elkwood.

“He’ll be on the pace,” said Jacobson. “Breaking from the far outside I think will be alright for him. The distance is a little longer than his last try but I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”

Jockey Chuck C. Lopez, leading rider here in 1998, will ride either Slim Shadey or Spa City Fever in the Elkwood, which goes as race 10 on Friday’s 11-race card.




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