Two talented and consistent fillies head the field of eight distaffers entered to contest Sunday’s $75,000 Monmouth Beach Stakes at one mile and 70 yards, and there’s not a lot to separate them.
Successful Song, bred and owned by Live Oak Plantation, has been second in both her starts this year, most recently in the Grade 3 Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream Park. She’s compiled a 4-3-1 record in 13 lifetime starts for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., and her wins include the Judy’s Red Shoes Stakes at Calder.
Sweet N Sour Nina, a 4-year-old daughter of Sweetsouthernsaint, has a win and two seconds in three Florida starts this season for trainer Peter Walder, and has been worse than third just once in a career of 17 starts with a 7-7-2 mark.
Both fillies will be making their Monmouth debut in Sunday’s stakes event, and both show one moderate work over the track here, but a fast work in Florida before shipping north.
“She looks like she appreciates being at Monmouth Park,” Plesa said of Successful Song, a 4-year-old daughter of Successful Appeal. “We gave her a work over the track (five furlongs in 1:03 4/5 on May 3) and she’s right on target.”
In her most recent start on April 2, Successful Song was 25-1, but ran a big race to finish second, eight lengths behind 9-10 favorite Awesome Maria.
“We were second best that day,” Plesa said of his filly, “but she really ran a good race.”
Edgar Prado, who was aboard in both Gulfstream starts, will be in from New York to take the mount again Sunday.
Sweet N Sour Nina, owned by the partnership of John Buckley Jr., Ralph Durante and John Penn, has been a gem of consistency throughout her career. Her owners claimed the filly for $50,000 at Keeneland last October, and Walder took over her training this winter in Florida.
“The owners claimed the filly, and they knew I was going to Florida, so they asked if I wanted to train her,” Walder said. “I jumped at that. But when you get a horse who’s never been out of the (purse) money, the pressure’s on.
“But she’s been great to work with. She loves Gulfstream, but I don’t think she needs her track to do her best. She kept good company in those Florida races, and she’s headed in the right direction.”
The filly worked a half-mile here in :49 flat on Wednesday to get a look at the track, but before that turned in a sharp half-mile at Gulfstream in :48 flat on April 23.
This is the first time Walder has stabled at Monmouth since 2006, and he’s here in force, with 36 horses in his barn.
“It’s nice to be back at Monmouth,” he said, “especially with some good horses.”
CHUCK LOPEZ JUST 10 AWAY FROM 4,000 LIFETIME WINNERS
Chuck C. Lopez, who has been a fixture at Monmouth Park since he started riding 32 years ago, is just 10 away from 4,000 career wins.
The 50-year-old Lopez, who was the top apprentice at Monmouth in 1979 and won the overall riding title at the Meadowlands that fall, had 3,990 winners from 26,953 mounts going into Friday’s action. He has been riding at the New York tracks in recent days, and will continue to ride at Belmont on the days Monmouth is dark.
Lopez, who won the riding title at Monmouth in 1998 with 91 winners, is scheduled to have nine mounts on Saturday’s opening day card here, and has five rides on the Sunday program.
JOEY P., LOVE THAT DANCE TURN IN SHARP WORKS FOR PERKINS
Joey P. the 9-year-old phenom who has become one of the best New Jersey-bred runners of all time, drilled five furlongs in a zippy :59 3/5 Friday morning – best work of the day at the distance -- as he prepares for his 2011 debut, the $65,000 John J. Reilly Handicap on Saturday, May 28. Jockey Joe Bravo was aboard.
Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. stands in awe of Joey P., who has won 18 races (13 at Monmouth) and $1,063,667 during his career. And that despite emergency surgery for what could have been life-ending colic in 2009.
“He’s amazing,” Perkins said. “He’s won at least one race for eight straight years now, which is remarkable. He’s like this really great senior citizen now. He keeps himself trim, he eats right, he takes care of himself.
“You don’t even realize how fast he’s working because he has this long, fluid stride,” Perkins said.
Love That Dance, like Joey P. bred and owned by John Petrini, turned in the second best drill of the morning, getting five furlongs in 1:00 4/5. The 5-year-old mare by Not for Love will make her 2011 debut in the $75,000 Red Cross Stakes here on Sunday, May 29.