Trainer Chad Brown has a bevy of runners drawn in for the Grade I United Nations Stakes on Saturday ... See what J.N. Campbell thinks of his chances, below ...
1 3/8ths (Turf), United Nations Stakes (G1), Purse $500k, 3+
On Saturday’s Haskell undercard, the routing group will take to the Monmouth Turf Course and renew the annual contest known as the Grade I United Nations. In the past, this race has served as a magnificent test. A bevy of winners have emanated from a variety of barns that included trainers like Chad Brown, Graham Motion, Mark Casse, Mike Maker, and Jimmy Toner. Names like World Approval, Bigger Picture, and Aquaphobia are ones you will recognize because they claimed “Graded” glory elsewhere. The “UN” was another impressive addition to their mantlepiece. Should be again this year …
Now, let’s find out about this field…
#1 Arklow (Jky: F. Geroux/Trn: B. Cox):
Trainer Brad Cox keeps finding ways to get the very best out of one his greatest turf horses. The 7-yr-old keeps defying his age. Last out, in the Louisville (G3) the gelding came from behind starting on the backstretch, and won by a length over Red Knight. That is tough to do off-the-bench, but this one is pro … He is shipping into Monmouth with hopes of doing it one more time. Florent Geroux gets the call, like he does for most of Cox’s big runners. I am not sure if this aged grass-master has what it takes to get the job done here. He might be just too short a price. Adopting the wait-and-see approach, when tote-watching … Maybe a bet at 5/1 or higher?
#2 Epic Bromance (Jky: J. Ferrer/Trn: J. Sweezey):
Trainer Mark Casse was the last to train this distance specialist, and now the Sweezey Barn has a hold of him. I am not sure what the logic here is … trying to enter a “G1” after really only competing in a “G2” is not much of a plan. Oh, in the Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland, this gelding finished 8th, 55-lengths back. Hardly a tick in the positive column. Maybe local rider Jose Ferrer, who has commanded some nice crop-less mounts during the Monmouth Meet, can work out a suitable trip. Otherwise, we might be looking at a repeat performance from Keeneland.
#3 Serve the King (Jky: P. Lopez/Trn: C. Brown):
Here is the 1st of … count’em … 3 Chad Brown entries. This Peter Brant horse has some local experience on-track, after competing in the last 2 editions of the Monmouth (G3) at 1 1/8th. There were some mixed results, especially back in June. The 5-yr-old son of Kingman (GB) just didn’t seem to have that late gear that was necessary to win the day. Perhaps the rider change to Paco Lopez will do some good? He continues to ride well of late. To take a step forward, this one is going to put in a game effort to take on the likes of this field.
#4 Imperador (Jky: J. Talamo/Trn: P. Lobo):
A former turf router who spent his early years down in Argentina, Paulo Lobo trains this one state-side, and his form is questionable. In 4 races (including the Seabiscuit (G2)/Louisville (G3), he just never seems to be able to handle the traffic. Finishing strong is a necessary component in grass racing, and you need an able-bodied jock to perform that task. Joe Talamo has experience, but his riding on the lawn leaves much to be desired. I like Lobo’s abilities, but I cannot see this son of Treasure Beach (GB) pulling the upset in the U.N.
#5 Fantasioso (Jky: M. Mena/Trn: I. Correas):
In Thoroughbred racing there are ownership groups, then there are ownership groups. Bloom Racing is the latter … founded by a former jockey, Jeff Bloom provides a unique experience, and it is frankly excellent. He pairs with trainer Ignacio Correas, to send this former Argentine runner into Monmouth. The last time we saw the 6-yr-old, he was taking on the deep route course at Belmont in a 2-mile affair. A second-place finish was not too shabby, and I liked that late race action up the lane. Progress … Now, on the cutback, we are going to see if he can game with these turfers. It will not be easy, but I think he has a more than legitimate shot to hit the board. A substandard turf rider like Miguel Mena is a not a plus at all.
#6 Winters Back (Jky: D. Cohen/Trn: T. Pletcher):
Trainer Todd Pletcher is due in the Hall of Fame soon, and he just keeps rolling like a machine. In this spot, he is sending an older colt into what will be his 1st Grade I contest. The son of Summer Front was entered in the local prep, the Grade III Monmouth, and he lost the lead at the top of the stretch, finishing a respectable 2nd. That lost lead though does not bode well, especially in this race where some late charges are bound to happen. David Cohen does not have much grass racing experience because he spends the first part of the year primarily at Oaklawn. They do not have a turf course, so there is little time for practice. Hard to see this one jumping into this company, and sticking …
#7 Oceans Map (Jky: I. Castillo/Trn: G. Sacco):
Here is another overmatched runner that may be over his head on Saturday for Greg Sacco. If you are looking for a box car-priced entrant, then this will probably be it. Sacco also outright owns this son of Liam’s Map, so there is some personal incentive at stake. Still, the 4-yr-old gelding has not really competed in “Graded” Co., so it is hard to see jockey Isaac Castillo getting this one home for the owner/conditioner. Who doesn’t like to root for an underdog? Lucky to hit the board … that is my thinking.
#8 Master Piece (CHI) (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: C. Brown):
Trainer Chad Brown’s 2nd entry in the U.N. was one of the “other” runners from the same stable in the Manhattan (G1) back on the undercard for the Belmont Stakes. You probably remember the Brown charge who won on the Elmont turf that day—Domestic Spending. His stablemate who is drawn in here did not do too poorly in that race (6th), especially considering the field size and firepower. Brown sends him to Monmouth, and I like his chances very much. Having Joel Rosario come over to ride is a coup because he was on this 5-yr-old out of Mastercraftsman (IRE) 2-back in an ALLW race at Keeneland, which resulted in a score. Big chance here to notch another “G1” for this super turf stable.
#9 Glynn County (Jky: T. Gaffalione/Trn: M. Maker):
Not only do we have a Chad Brown vs. Brad Cox showdown, and a number of aforementioned ownership groups like Bloom and Brant, but we also have this one from Three Diamonds who is trained by the excellent Mike Maker. The Kentucky-based conditioner has brought this 4-yr-old colt along nicely, advancing through the ALLW/OC ranks at NYRA stops and at KEE/CD. Coming into the U.N., he is a bit of an unknown. Clearly, Maker thinks he is ready to take on this type of company, otherwise, he would not be here. Tyler Gaffalione has some experience with this son of Kitten’s Joy, and should be an “X-Factor.” I would not be surprised if this is where the upset came from in this race. Maker is excellent at preparation. My kind of runner … watch out!
#10 Tribhuvan (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: C. Brown):
Here is the final Chad Brown-ite to come to Monmouth for this race, and he is the presumptive favorite, unless Cox’s runner sweeps in by a nose on the tote. There is much to be impressed with this last, but not least Brown entry. Last out, this son of Toronado (IRE) nearly stole the show from stablemate Domestic Spending in the Manhattan (G1). It wasn’t to be … too many gears were exhibited by Flavien Prat on that eventual winner. With a twist of fate, Prat comes to the Jersey Shore to hop aboard his former rival. It could be a win because if he runs like before, the frontend may well be his. Playing “catch me if you can,” seems like the order of the day … it may be hard for the rest of this field, if they let the SoCal-based jockey have his way. A 5-yr-old with impressive speed, he can even handle some cut in the turf come post time. Biggest chance of all …
Join us Saturday for all of our Monmouth selections! Should be a great set of races from “The Shore!”