United Nations Stakes Ripe For the Taking
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.
The other grade I winner is Telling, who pulled off a 33-1 shocker in the Sword Dancer Invitational last summer at Saratoga. The 6-year-old hoirse has not hit the board since that victory, including a pair of disappointing efforts in 2010.
The international invaders are Irish-bred Chinchon and Brazilian-bred Jeune-Turc. Based in France, Chinchon made his lone start in the U.S. a year ago in the Man o' War (gr. IT) at Belmont, finishing fourth but beaten only three lengths. One of his two group III wins came earlier this year in the Prix Exbury at Saint Cloud. Garrett Gomez will be in the irons.
Jeune-Turc, to be saddled by Paulo Lobo, is a group I winner in Brazil, where he has made the majority of his 22 lifetime starts. The 6-year-old horse was runner-up in his only start this season back in February and will make his U.S. debut.
The local prep for the United Nations, the June 12 Monmouth Stakes (gr. IIIT), was won by locally-based Get Serious, who posted a 1 1/4-length victory. It was the second graded stakes win for the 6-year-old gelded son of City Zip , who scored the Red Bank Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth last season. John Forbes trains the New York-bred, a winner of 11 of 27 career starts. Pablo Fragoso will stay aboard.
Second in the Monmouth Stakes was Roman Tiger, who is also based in New Jersey. This will already be the seventh start of the season for the 5-year-old gelding, who has one win and two runner-ups to show for his efforts.
Trainer Mary Hartmann said she decided not to enter Presious Passion after his disappointing performance in the Monmouth Stakes when finishing seventh.
“Physically, he’s fine. He’s just not on his game,” said Hartmann. “He’s just not his old self. I would never send him out there to embarrass himself.
“We sent him to a farm in Colts Neck and we’ll see how he does there. I wanted to put him where I could see him every day. There are no plans for him. I want to see how he’s doing.”
$750,000 United Nations S. (gr. IT, Race 10, 5:23 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf)
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