Breeders' Cup Steeplechase contenders Tres Touche, Sur La Tete and Pelagos are part of the eight-horse field entered for Sunday's $75,000 Metcalf Memorial (NSA-II) at Monmouth Park. The 2 1/2-mile hurdle stakes, Monmouth's first steeplechase since 1992, is the last jump prep for the Oct. 23 $175,000 Breeders' Cup (NSA- I) at Far Hills.
Tres Touche won the Sept. 2 New York Turf Writers Cup (NSA-I) at Saratoga and recently passed the $500,000 mark in lifetime jump earnings. Only eight U.S. jumpers have earned that much.
The 7-year-old, owned by Barracuda Stable and trained at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland by Ricky Hendriks, is enjoying the best season of his career with two wins and $134,010 in earnings.
Regular jockey David Bentley has the call at top weight of 158 pounds. "His biggest forte is his jumping - he gets lengths at his hurdles," said Bentley in Saratoga. "You probably don't realize it watching, but if you're getting a length at each fence it adds up and can be very important late in a race, especially when horses are trying to catch you. He always gives 10 percent. He's so tough and honest."
In just his second season of steeplechasing, the 6-year-old son of Sky Classic, Sur La Tete has bloomed into a horse people talk about. Owned by Kinross Farm and trained by Neil Morris in Virginia, Sur La Tete took two-thirds of the Steeplechase Triple Crown this spring (and was third in the other stage) and leads all 2004 jumpers with $134,560 in earnings.
He makes his first start in open company (the Triple Crown races are restricted stakes) at Monmouth. In his last start, Sur La Tete won the June 3 Meadow Brook (NSA- I) at Belmont Park by 3 1/2 lengths.
Regular jockey Chris Read, also Morris' chief assistant, gets the riding
assignment at 152 pounds.
The field for the Metcalf, in post position order, with trainer, jockey and
weight. The Metcalf will be the third race on Sunday with an approximate
post time of 1:53 p.m.
1-- Pelagos (Chip Miller, 150 pounds).
2--Imperial Gold (Gerry Carwood, 146 pounds).
3--Sur La Tete (Chris Read, 152 pounds).
4--Santenay (Cyril Murphy, 148 pounds).
5--Popular Gigalo (Blair Waterman 140 pounds).
6--Tres Touche (David Bentley, 158 pounds).
7--Foretold (Danielle Hodsdon, 142 pounds).
8--Mulahen (Tom Foley, 142 pounds).