On Saturday’s Haskell undercard, the grass routing group will take to the Monmouth Turf Course and renew the annual contest known as the Grade 1 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, Aquaphobia, and Tribhuvan (FR) 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 Adhamo (IRE) (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: C. Brown):
The Chad Brown turf machine is at it again, and he comes to Monmouth with a pair of runners that are seeking to claim this prize. This route specialist competed in some challenging Group Co. in France at the start of his career. The son of Intello (GER) was up against St Mark’s Basilica and Dubai Honour. You will not find that caliber of runner in this spot, and after some excellent U.S. races, he appears ready to go. When Flavien Prat and Brown team, they can make quite a duo. This turfer should be a top pick …
#2 Carpenters Call (Jky: S. Camacho/Trn: G. Bennett):
Trainer Gerald Bennett bounces between Monmouth and Tampa during the season, but he rarely makes an appearance in graded stakes like this one. His colt by Tourist is not without merit, and it is good to see him ratcheting up the class elevator. Samy Camacho (who like his trainer moves between the aforementioned tracks) gets the call. Last time, he ably guided his mount to a nice score at Presque Isle Downs in an OC50kn3x event. This race is going to be inordinately tougher, and that automatically makes him a long shot.
#3 Temple (Jky: J. Ortiz/Trn: M. Maker):
The days when Dynaformer runners ruled the turf routes has come to a close. However, the senior sire’s offspring are now in the breeding shed. By Temple City, this colt for Mike Maker showed some major promise at Gulfstream Park last spring running in the long-distance grass division. He tried the McKnight (G3), the Mac D (G2), and the Pan Am (G2). The results were incredibly stable, and winning the Mac D was a highlight, for sure. After a break, the 6-yr-old gelding has the chance to fire from off-the-bench. Maker is a master at preparation, and he does his work quietly and with purpose. I would not be surprised at all if this runner won this race. He has the talent, the class, and the right jockey aboard—Jose Ortiz.
#4 Tribhuvan (FR) (Jky: M. Franco/Trn: C. Brown):
The defending champ is back for Chad Brown, and looking to capitalize on a massive win in the Manhattan S. (G1) at Belmont on 11 June. That score surprised most everyone, when Manny Franco went gate-to-wire in fine style. It was shocking that they let him have his way with the fractions … but every now and then, it happens on the sod. It is hard to imagine Franco pulling off such a feat like that again, but Flavien Prat did it last year in the U.N., so you never know. Hard to see it happening with so many other options afoot …
#5 He’spuregold (Jky: P. Lopez/Trn: K. Breen):
The long shot list continues with this Kelly Breen grass specialist that won his last pair of races at Monmouth on the turf. The state bred Irish War Cry H. $90k was another Paco Lopez score. The gelding by Vancouver (AUS) rated impressively, and scooped up the victory in the end. Breen trains his share of sodbusters, and when he and Lopez work together … they win at 25%. Still, the class jump is probably the biggest concern pointing towards this race. Much more to do …
#6 Mohs (Jky: J. Rendon/Trn: P. McBurney):
Pat McBurney is another local conditioner that runs a fair amount at Monmouth. His well-bred son of Hard Spun knows the grass well, and tried to beat the odds last time out in the Monmouth (G3). It went about as well as a 56/1 shot could … 5th, 2+ lengths off Sacred Life. Returning to the scene, the 4-yr-old will need to put his best hoof forward. Jairo Rendon gets the call once again, and it is going to take a flawless trip, if he wants to win here.
#7 Glynn County (Jky: M. Smith/Trn: M. Maker):
I cannot say I remember when Mike Maker and Mike Smith have worked together. The HOF rider takes over this son of Kitten’s Joy (who sadly passed away recently) from “Jersey Joe” Bravo. The horse has a strong class about him after Maker has tried him in numerous “graded” turf events from Kentucky to Florida. Three Diamonds Farm has watched their runner earn over $440k in 22 lifetime starts, which is not too shabby indeed. Competing once again in the U.N. he will need to improve, especially after a poor performance in the Monmouth (G3) last time.
#8 Kentucky Ghost (Jky: F. Geroux/Trn: V. Oliver):
It is safe to say that Vicky Oliver’s gelding by Ghostzapper was not at his best in the Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill just before KYD148. Luckily for BBN Racing, he made his return to the track in the Cliff Hanger $106k at Monmouth on 28 May. Even though he encountered traffic right from the start, he was able to turn things around in the end. That victory included a strong 4-wide move. Now, Oliver gives her charge a rider upgrade by employing Florent Geroux. A jockey who travels widely, he can adapt to a number of scenarios. I am not sure this turf distance specialist can win, but using him underneath on any ticket sounds plausible.
#9 Epic Bromance (Jky: J. Ferrer/Trn: K. Sweezey):
The tributes to Kitten’s Joy this past month were special, and though sad to hear, it reflected just how special this turf sire was to his fans. Here is another of his offspring that will be looking to do something he hasn’t done in some time—get to the winner’s circle. The former Mark Casse runner came to Kent Sweezey, and the conditioner was aggressive with his entries right from the start. He was 3rd in this race last year, and took on tough company in the Turf Cup (G2) at Kentucky Downs, the Knickerbocker (G3) at Belmont, the Tampa Bay (G3), and the Monmouth (G3) last month. Esteemed local man Jose Ferrer gets the call once again, and if you are after a price on the tote, this could be your horse.
#10 Gufo (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: C. Clement):
What makes this Grade 1 just that is the presence of this Christophe Clement ace. One of his best turf racers of all-time, the 5-yr-old of Declaration of War just keeps on fighting. His overall racing record of 17/8-3-5 is quite impressive, especially when you consider the company he has kept. He is easily the classiest runner in this race, and Joel Rosario knows him top to bottom. Clement expects to win this race, and it will be interesting to see how his entry takes to the Monmouth grass. If he runs his race, with the kind of late power he commands, then he will be almost impossible to beat. A top pick for sure …
Join us Saturday for all of our Monmouth selections! Should be a great set of races from “The Shore!” Be sure to follow us on Twitter … Horseracing_USA !!!