Five graded stakes winners, including a pair from the Todd Pletcher stable, comprise the field for the $250,000 Salvator Mile Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park July 3.
The Salvator Mile, contested on the main track, immediately follows the United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) on the Monmouth program with a probable post of 5:50 p.m. EDT.
Pletcher, who won the Salvator Mile in 2006 with Flower Alley , is represented by multiple grade II winner Munnings as well as Le Grand Cru, who was recently transferred to his care from the Allen Jerkens barn. The others in the small but strong field are Duke of Mischief, Gone Astray , and You and I Forever. There were 27 horses nominated to the race.
Munnings makes his first start since turning in a very dull 11th-place finish over a sloppy track in the seven-furlong Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) on the Kentucky Derby program May 1. The only horse in the field that is stretching out, this will be the longest race for the 4-year-old son of Speightstown since he ran third behind champions Rachel Alexandra and Summer Bird in the 1 1/8-mile Haskell Invitational (gr. I) over a sloppy Monmouth strip last August.
Owned by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derrick Smith, Munnings won the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (gr. II) Feb. 13, the most recent of his three grade II victories -- all at seven furlongs. A lifetime winner of four of 13 starts and $735,140, he breaks from the rail post with Garrett Gomez aboard for the first time. Gomez replaces John Velazquez.
Michael C. Stinson's Le Grand Cru makes his first start for Pletcher following a fifth-place effort in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) over one mile at Belmont Park May 31. The 5-year-old son of Dynaformer won the Westchester Stakes (gr. III) in a 27-1 upset for Jerkens to open the Belmont meet a month earlier. Jose Lezcano, who was aboard the dark bay horse for consecutive grade III victories last fall, regains the mount here. They break from post 2.
Gone Astray, a Phipps Stable homebred, looks to regain the form that saw him win the Pennsylvania and Ohio derbies (both gr. II) in back-to-back fashion last year for trainer Shug McGaughey. The 4-year-old Dixie Union colt is winless in three starts in 2010 and is coming off a third-place finish in the Skip Away Stakes behind Cool Coal Man and Sir Whimsey at Monmouth June 12. Gone Astray, a four-time winner in 16 starts with 12 in-the-money performances, leads the field with earnings of $915,262. Cornelio Velasquez takes the riding duties.
Duke of Mischief shortens up after fading to eighth in the nine-furlong Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill June 12. Trained by David Fawkes, the 4-year-old colt by Graeme Hall was a clear winner of the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II), also at nine furlongs, more than two months earlier.
Duke of Mischief owns two victories at the one-mile distance, both in off-the-turf races, including the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream over a good track Jan. 10. With Eibar Coa aboard, he carries top weight 123 pounds, two more than three others in the field.
Winner of the one-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) at odds of 13-1 in March, You and I Forever looks to rebound from his last-place finish in the Met Mile last time out. Thomas Bush trains the 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy who is out of the five-time grand I winner You, for Jafar Abdullah Algahtani.
$250,000 Salvator Mile Stakes (gr. III, Race 11, 5:50 p.m.), 3 & Up, One Mile (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Munnings (KY), G K Gomez, 121, T A Pletcher
2. Le Grand Cru (KY), E S Prado, 121, T A Pletcher
3. You and I Forever (KY), J Lezcano, 121, T M Bush
4. Duke of Mischief (FL), E Coa, 123, D Fawkes
5. Gone Astray (KY), C H Velasquez, 117, C R McGaughey III