Sunday’s Grade 3 Cliff Hanger Stakes has drawn a very competitive group of seven, including multiple Grade 1 winner Big Blue Kitten, who will face off against the Todd Pletcher trained Winning Cause, who returns to Monmouth after a try at Saratoga last out.
“He always runs well,” said Anthony Sciametta, Pletcher’s Monmouth assistant. “He’s a very consistent horse, who likes this course. He shipped in two days ago and I’m sure he’ll run his usual good race.”
In the colors of Alto Racing LLC, Winning Cause has already made three starts at Monmouth Park this year – a second in the Red Bank (G3 on May 17), third in the Monmouth Stakes (G2 on June 8) and fourth in the United Nations (G1 on July 6).
From 21 career starts, Winning Cause sports a record of 4-7-2, good for earnings just shy of $500k. Named the 3-1 second choice on Brad Thomas’s morning line, Winning Cause will break from post two with Eddie Castro in the irons.
The 3-2 morning line favorite is Big Blue Kitten, who will be making just his second start of 2014 in the $100,000 Cliff Hanger. Big Blue Kitten captured the Lure Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 2, his first start since last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf.
The Chad Brown trainee will be piloted by 13-time Monmouth Park riding champion Joe Bravo, as that duo break from the outside post seven in the mile and an eighth turf test. Last year Big Blue Kitten took the Monmouth Stakes (G2) and the United Nations (G1) before going on to take the Sword Dancer (G1) at the Spa.
Others contesting the Cliff Hanger are Guys Reward, winner of the Oceanport (G3) here on July 27, Haskell Day; Plainview, the likely pacesetter in the group; Calvados, a Group 3 placed runner in Argentina; Michael With Us, a graded stakes placed runner; and, Vitium, who will be looking for his first graded stakes win.
The Cliff Hanger goes as race 11 on Sunday’s 12-race program.
Source: Monmouth Park