Four grade I winners and a pair of intriguing international contenders were among the nine entered for a suddenly wide-open editon of the $750,000 BetFair/TVG United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) July 3 at Monmouth Park.
One of two grade I races at the Monmouth meet, the 1 3/8-mile United Nations was expected to include Presious Passion, the two-time defending champion of the race. But the 7-year-old gelding did not enter, leaving several others to vie for favortism. The race will be shown live on NTRA.com and is scheduled for a 5:23 p.m. EDT post.
The horse to beat may be Winchester, a 5-year-old son of Theatrical entering off a 21-1 upset in the June 5 Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont when defeating stablemate Gio Ponti by a half length. The Christophe Clement trainee came from well off the pace to take the 10-furlong Manhattan and earn his first stakes win since the 2008 Secretariat (gr. IT) at Arlington.
Winchester, who will carry top weight of 123 pounds, prepped for the Manhattan with a victory in allowance company at Keeneland in April. He finished runner-up to Presious Passion in the Mac Diarmida in his season debut. Cornelio Velasquez has the mount once again.
Fourth in the Manhattan but beaten only 1 1/2 lengths was Take the Points, who may have felt the effects of his trip to Dubai where he finished fifth in the March 27 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I). Take the Points began his 4-year-old season by crossing the wire first in the grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February but was disqualified for interference in the stretch and placed fifth.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the son of Even the Score won the Secretariat Stakes and Jamaica Handicap, both grade I, as a sophomore. Edgar Prado will ride.
California-bred and -based 4-year-old Acclamation will make his first start away from his home state, but enters the race in fine form. The Donald Warren trainee will be running for the eighth time this season and comes in with back-to-back scores in the May 15 Jim Murray Handicap (gr. IIT) and June 5 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT), both at Hollywood Park.
Acclamation, by Unusual Heat, broke an 11-race losing streak in the Jim Murray. The 4-year-old colt will again be ridden by Christian Santiago Reyes and also carry 123 pounds.
$750,000 United Nations S. (gr. IT, Race 10, 5:23 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Telling (KY), E Coa, 118, S Hobby
2. Get Serious (NY), P Fragoso, 118, J H Forbes
3. Acclamation (CA), C Santiago Reyes, 123, D Warren
4. Straight Story (NY), C H Marquez Jr., 118, A E Goldberg
5. Winchester (VA), C H Velasquez, 123, C Clement
6. Jeune-Turc (BRZ), J Lezcano, 118, P H Lobo
7. Take the Points (KY), E S Prado, 118, T A Pletcher
8. Chinchon (IRE), G K Gomez, 118, C Laffon-Parias
9. Laureate Conductor (KY), J Bravo, 118, C Clement