The 1 1/18-mile race, which goes as the 10th on the program at 5:20 p.m. EDT, has grade III status for the first time in 2010, and the purse has been increased by $50,000. The changes helped attract a strong field of nine, including graded-stakes winners Al Khali, Baletti, Blues Street, and Get Serious.
Now in its third year, the Monmouth Stakes was captured in 2008 by champion Big Brown . Last year, Patricia Generazio’s 7-year-old front-runner Presious Passion used the race as a springboard to a repeat victory in the United Nations Stakes (gr. IT). Trainer Mary Hartmann has indicated that Presious will be looking to do just that again this year.
After scoring grade I wins on both coasts last year, Presious Passion headed into the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) in which he fought gamely to the wire, coming up just a half-length short of Conduit.
Following a win in Gulfstream’s Mac Diarmada (gr. IIT) earlier this year, Presious Passion shipped halfway around the world to Dubai's Sheema Classic (UAE-I) March 27. With a well-watered turf course under his feet, Presious Passion made the early lead as usual only to fade in the stretch and finish last. This will be his first start since returning from Dubai.
Presious Passion is a 14-time winner in 45 races with lifetime earnings of $2,666,293. He has been especially lethal at Monmouth, where he boasts a career mark of 5-5-1 in 14 starts while banking $1,156,000.
He drew post six for his return and will have regular pilot Elvis Trujillo at the controls. The Royal Anthem gelding shares top weight of 123 pounds with Blues Street.
Blues Street won the Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT) and the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) back-to-back on firm turf in New Orleans this year for Anstu Stables. He ran fifth in the Turf Classic (gr. IT) on yielding ground at Churchill Downs in his most recent race May 1.
The 6-year-old son of Street Cry is one of two in the Monmouth lineup for trainer Todd Pletcher, who also entered Edward P. Evans' homebred Pleasant Strike , placed third by disqualification of Roman Tiger in the May 22 Elkwood Stakes at Monmouth.
Castletop Stable's Baletti comes into the race off a victory in Belmont Park's Fort Marcy Stakes (gr. IIIT) as the favorite May 1 for trainer Angel Penna Jr. The 6-year-old son of Gulch will have Cornelio Velasquez aboard once again, and they will break from post two.
Al Khali, trained by Bill Mott for Brous Stable and Wachtel Stable, won Saratoga's Saranac Stakes (gr. IIIT) as a 3-year-old late last summer and has started just once in 2010, finishing sixth in the Turf Classic at Churchill.
Get Serious, a nine-time winner at Monmouth in his career, put together a three-race winning streak in stakes last summer on his favorite course for trainer John Forbes, capped by the Red Bank (gr. IIIT) Sept. 6. The 6-year-old City Zip gelding has raced once in 2010, taking a one-mile optional claiming allowance event on the Monmouth lawn May 31.
$250,000 Monmouth Stakes (gr. IIIT, 5:20 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Get Serious (NY), P Fragoso, 120, J H Forbes
2. Baletti (KY), C H Velasquez, 120, A J Penna Jr.
3. Forgotten Dynasty (PA), E Castro, 118, S Benzel
4. Dynamoor (KY), C H Marquez Jr., 118, J A Jerkens
5. Pleasant Strike (VA), C P DeCarlo, 118, T A Pletcher
6. Presious Passion (FL), E Trujillo, 123, M Hartmann
7. Al Khali (KY), M J Luzzi, 118, W I Mott
8. Blues Street (KY), D Cohen, 123, T A Pletcher
9. Roman Tiger (FL), J Bravo, 120, D J Manning