By John Heims —-
EAGLE SOARS INTO ISELIN LOOKING FOR ANOTHER GRADED STAKES SCORE
Eagle returns to graded stakes company in search of another Grade 3 victory when he visits Monmouth Park for the first time against four rivals in Saturday’s $100,000 Phillip H. Iselin Stakes going a mile and an eighth.
The 5-year-old son of Candy Ride out of the Mineshaft mare Sea Gull captured the Schaefer Memorial Stakes at Indiana Grand last time out where he sat eights lengths off the lead along the backstretch before unleashing his run around the far turn and getting up in time to score the victory by a head over Fear The Cowboy, who went on to win the West Virginia Governors Stakes next race.
Eagle’s greatest success came in last year’s Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland, closing once again along the rail to the length and a quarter score. He nearly took down last year’s Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, falling a half-length short to multiple Grade 1 winner Bradester.
“He’s been doing well coming out of last race,” said trainer Neil Howard. “He has settled in nicely since getting on the grounds. He went to the track today and went over it well.”
Owned by William S. Farish, Eagle has worked four times at his home at Churchill Downs to prepare for Saturday. The latest came on Aug. 22 when he covered four furlongs in :49, eighth fastest of the 59 horses that went that distance on the day. James Graham will get the call for the first time in the Iselin.
To add another graded stakes victory to his already impressive resume, Eagle will have to get by two other stakes winners in the field. Mr. Jordan, for Eddie Plesa Jr., won last year’s Millions Classic Preview Stakes at Laurel Park while Conquest Big E has won two-in-a-row including the Coast Is Clear Handicap last time out at Gulfstream Park.
The Iselin will run as race 7 on Saturday’s 12- race card. Gates open early at 11 a.m. with first post set for 12:50 p.m.
DIAMOND PLAY TRIES STAKES COMPANY FOR FIRST TIME IN CHARLES HESSE III
Diamond Play moves back to the main track as she enters stakes company for the first time and takes on the boys in Sunday’s $60,000 Charles Hesse III Handicap, going a mile and a sixteenth.
Diamond Play is coming off just her second turf start of her career where she stalked the early pace and got in front in the final 100 yards to score by a half length to beat the boys in an allowance optional claiming event on July 29.
The 4-year-old filly by E Dubai out of the Belong to Me mare Forbidden Isle has hit the board in each of her eight starts on the Monmouth Park main track including back-to-back wins to end the 2016 meet, both in front-running fashion.
“I’m so happy with the way she’s coming into the race,” said trainer Anthony Margotta Jr. “She has beaten the boys before, but this is probably her toughest race yet. She’s a horse that definitely likes to be up on the pace, but doesn’t necessarily need the lead. She can sit right off the pace too.”
Owned by Thoroughbreds Investment Fund LLC, Diamond Play has worked once to gear up for her first shot at a stakes title. That work come on Aug. 13 when she breezed four furlongs in :53 over the fast Monmouth main track.
To grab her first stakes victory in the Charles Hesse III, Diamond Play will have to hold off two proven stakes winners. Chublicious, for leading trainer Jorge Navarro, comes off a win in the John. J Reilly Handicap on the Haskell undercard and stretches out to a route distance for the first time in two years and Jason Servis trainee Fuzzy Muzzle took home last year’s Dan Horn Handicap.
The Charles Hesse III will run as race 11 on Sunday’s 12-race card as part of three stakes races in the New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. with first post at 12:50 p.m.
NJ THOROUGHBRED FESTIVAL HEADLINES SUNDAY’S CARD
The 15th annual New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival will headline Sunday’s live racing action at Monmouth Park featuring three stakes races for the state’s top equine athletes.
The day’s big races include the Charles Hesse III Handicap, going a mile and a sixteenth, the Eleven North Handicap, for filly and mare sprinters, and the New Jersey Breeder’s Handicap, a five and a half furlong event on the turf.
The day will also feature a New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival Insulated Tote Bag giveaway with paid admission while supplies last.
Gates will open at 11:30 a.m with first post set for 12:50 p.m.
NHC SUPER QUALIFIER SATURDAY AT MONMOUTH PARK
Monmouth Park will be hosting a $500 NHC Super Qualifier Handicapping Contest throughout the day on Saturday.
There will be nine seats available to the top finishers to two of the biggest handicapping contests in the country with seven spots up for grabs in the 2017 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship and two spot available for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge as well as cash prizes.
You must wager on a minimum of 10 races including at least five on Monmouth Park’s 12-race card. Saratoga, who has seven graded stakes races including six Grade 1’s headlined by the Travers, will be the other contest track.
Walk-up registration will take place the day of the contest from 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Gates will open at Monmouth early at 11 a.m. with first post coming at 12:50 p.m.