Saturday's $200,000 Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) has come up strong this year with nine solid older horses passing the entry box.
The 68th running of the 1 1/8-mile Iselin has a wide array of talent, from local hopes Jersey Giant and Vinemaster, to seasoned handicappers Tenpins, Saarland, Private Lap, and Aeneas.
Vinemeister, trained by Alan Seewald, and Jersey Giant, trained by Jim Ryerson, ran one-two in the Salvator Mile (gr. III) last out, but it's likely they'll both be double-digit prices in the betting in the Iselin.
Favoritism will fall between Tenpins and Saarland.
Tenpins, bred and owned by Joseph Vitello, won the Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows in his lone 2003 start on July 12. The son of Smart Strike won three stakes last year including the Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington and the William Donald Schaefer Handicap (gr. III) at Pimlico. A winner of eight of 12 career starts for trainer Don Winfree, Tenpins has earned $818,689.
The 5-year-old shipped into Monmouth on Tuesday and has been training over the track here all week.
Cynthia Phipps' Saarland, whose dam Versailles Treaty won the Molly Pitcher Handicap (gr. II) here in 1992, is based at Saratoga and is slated to arrive the morning of the race. Trainer Shug McGaughey has named Eibar Coa to ride. Coa was Monmouth's leading jockey the last two years before switching his tack to New York this season.
Saarland is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Whitney Stakes (gr. I) behind Medaglia d'Oro and Volponi at Saratoga on Aug. 2. Highly regarded throughout his career, the 4-year-old Saarland (by Unbridled) still has but one stakes win to his credit, the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) that he won late in his 2-year-old campaign. He just missed by a neck in the Metropolitan Mile (gr. I) on Memorial Day.
Aeneas, a son of Capote owned by Pat and Ed Pavlish and trained by Marty Wolfson, was second behind Perfect Drift in the Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington on July 19. He has a 3-7-2 slate from 16 career starts and has earned $232,825.
Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III), 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds and up, $200,000
PP, Horse, Wgt., Jockey
1, Vinemaster, 114, Jose Velez Jr.
2, Private Lap, 115, Abdiel Torbio
3, Aeneas, 114, Gary Boulanger
4, Tenpins, 119, Robby Albarado
5, Sherpa Guide, 114, Charles C. Lopez
6, Saarland, 117, Eibar Coa
7, Jersey Giant, 115, Julian Pimentel
8, Country Be Gold, 112, Roberto Alvarado Jr.
9, Runspastum, 114, Jose Ferrer