A quartet of runners from the Tim Hills barn were the first to try the new Monmouth Park turf when they all worked over the surface on Monday -- the first horses to set foot on the $4.5 million course.
"They all went great," said Hills, the leading Monmouth Park trainer in 2004. "All the riders came back raving about the new course. The big thing was that they all said it was consistent all the way around -- something that the old course wasn't."
Going the fastest of the bunch was 10-year-old Rolled Stocking, under exercise rider Michelle McSweeney, who worked four furlongs in :49 4/5 with the dogs up. Also stretching their legs on the course were Scattering Breezes, Nautical Agent and Sparkling Humor, who was the first to set foot on the new course at approximately 9:50 a.m.
"The course really is perfect," Hills said. "It's lush, it looks good and healthy. No clods came up at all -- everything looks great."
Over the course of the next couple of weeks horses will continue to work over the turf, including out of the gate from both chutes. Following that, the first turf race of the meet will be run Sat., June 24.
"It couldn't have worked out better," said Robert Kulina, vice president and general manager of Monmouth Park, who was on the turf course for Monday's activities. "All the horses went very well over the surface. One of the most encouraging signs was the drainage. We had six to seven inches of rain last week and the course drained beautifully. The grass has had sufficient time to take root and we'll be set to go on June 24."
The new turf course is among many improvements being made to the Oceanport, New Jersey, racetrack as it gets set to host the 2007 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, the first ever in the Garden State.
The 2006 live race meet continues at Monmouth Park through Sept. 24.