Strike the Moon, who just missed winning the Delaware Oaks (gr. II) last month, heads a field of 11 sophomore fillies in the $150,000 Monmouth Oaks (gr. I) Aug. 13 at Monmouth Park.
None of the entrants in the 1 1/16-mile Monmouth Oaks has a graded stakes win, but R. Larry Johnson's homebred has come the closest. The daughter of Malibu Moon set a reasonable pace in the Delaware Oaks July 9 and opened up a big advantage in mid-stretch. But she could not hold off the stoutly closing even-money choice St. John's River, losing by a head.
Trained by Michael Trombetta, Strike the Moon has been first or second in all six of her prior starts, winning twice. In consecutive starts since defeating an optional claiming allowance field at Pimlico April 15, she was runner-up in the Miss Preakness and Jostle stakes before her Delaware Park effort.
The Delaware Oaks was Strike the Moon's first attempt at routing. Julien Pimentel has the mount once more on the bay filly.
Strike the Moon drew the rail and may be forced to go from the gate to avoid being trapped in a field that appears to have quite a bit of speed. Among those who figure to be on or near the lead is Canadian Mistress, who lines up just to the outside of Strike the Moon. Canadian Mistress is making her stakes debut for trainer Larry Jones off back-to-back wins at Delaware and Monmouth.
Jones has had a stranglehold on the Monmouth Oaks in recent years. He won the race in 2008 with Maren's Meadow and in 2009 with Just Jenda. Last year's winner, No Such Word, was trained by Jones' wife, Cindy, as he took a break from training.
Canadian Mistress, a homebred for Brereton C. Jones, broke her maiden by an astonishing 21 1/2 lengths against five rivals when teamed with Gabriel Saez for the first time at Delaware June 8. She returned July 2 with another front-running score in a first-level allowance at one mile and 70 yards at Monmouth. She has posted a pair of bullet five-furlong moves at Delaware since her last win, breezing :59 flat in her most recent drill Aug. 8.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, a two-time winner of the Monmouth Oaks, has entered a pair. WinStar Farm's Savvy Supreme, scratched from the Aug. 6 Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, flashed good speed in finishing second in an overnight stakes at Belmont Park in her most recent start July 15. Dance Quietly, a stakes winner at Aqueduct in January for the estate of Edward P. Evans, ran fourth in the Delaware Oaks when less than three lengths behind Strike the Moon.
Waterville Lake Stable homebred Miss Valentine should also get plenty of attention following her three-length win as the favorite in the Serena's Song Stakes at one mile and 70 yards at Monmouth July 16. Trained by Christophe Clement, the daughter of Afleet Alex has three wins and three seconds in seven lifetime starts.
With Joe Bravo returning to ride, Miss Valentine could get the ideal trip. She stalked a good pace last time behind Coco Ecolo before bidding three wide for the lead. She drew off in an impressive final furlong.
Withgreatpleasure and Coco Ecolo ran second and third, respectively, in the Serena's Song and return here as well.
Marion Ravenwood, an easy winner for trainer Graham Motion in both of her most recent starts, and Marvel Gaye, coming off a strong closing victory for the Dallas Stewart barn at Churchill Downs June 25, also have a shot.
The Monmouth Oaks is the 10th race on the program with an expected post of 5:24 p.m. EDT.
$150,000 Monmouth Oaks (gr. III, Race 10, 5:24 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 /16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Strike the Moon (KY), J Pimentel, M J Trombetta
2. Canadian Mistress (KY), G Saez, J L Jones
3. Miss Valentine (NY), J Bravo, C Clement
4. Savvy Supreme (KY), E Trujillo, T A Pletcher
5. My Sunshine Gal (FL), K Carmouche, D S Ryan
6. Marvel Gaye (KY), P Lopez, D Stewart
7. Coco Ecolo (KY), A Serpa, K J Breen
8. Withgreatpleasure (KY), C C Lopez, D Nunn
9. Marion Ravenwood (KY), J Rose, H G Motion
10. Dance Quietly (VA), C P DeCarlo, T A Pletcher
11. Daring Reality (KY), C H Marquez Jr., C A Lynch
All carry 118 pounds.