Teaks North, biding his time for jockey Eddie Castro into the stretch, surged past odds-on choice Get Stormy near the sixteenth pole en route to victory in the $250,000 Monmouth Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) on the turf June 12 in New Jersey.
Seventh last month behind the victorious Get Stormy in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs, 4-year-old Teaks North returned to the winner's circle for the first time since taking the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) from off the pace Feb. 5.
Justin Sallusto trains Teaks North, now three-for-three on the Monmouth turf, for owner Jules Boutelle. Bred in Florida by BryLynn Farms, Teaks North is by Northern Afleet --Teaksberry Road, by High Honors.
Teaks North won by three-quarters of a length over Sleepless Knight while completing the 1 1/8-mile distance in a creditable 1:48.56 over a turf course listed as "good."
“Eddie did everything exactly as I told him," said Sallusto. "I said, ‘Sit off the early speed and when you turn for home come and get them,’ and that’s exactly what he did.
"Last time at Churchill they went slow up front and then (Teaks North) had no where to go. Today was perfect. He’s loves it here. He’s never lost over this track."
As expected, course specialist Get Serious, breaking from the rail, and 4-5 choice Get Stormy hooked up on the front end as Teaks North settled into a stalking position in third for Castro. Get Serious, along the inside for Pablo Fragoso, held a slender advantage as the two front-runners tipped the timer in :24.24 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.23 for the half, and 1:11.90 for six furlongs.
Teaks North angled three paths wide for the stretch drive as Get Stormy and Ramon Dominguez inched away from the tiring Get Serious approaching mid-stretch. Teaks North put in a determined effort to sweep past Get Stormy and reached the wire in plenty of time as the late-charging Sleepless Knight and Jose Lezcano made a strong bid from fifth on the outside.
“We had two speed horses in front of us and were in a perfect position," Castro said. "I thought Get Stormy was going to be really tough, but luckily my horse had a really good kick in the stretch.”
Sleepless Knight edged Get Stormy, who was coming off back-to-back grade I wins for trainer Thomas Bush, by a half-length for second, with Get Serious holding on for fourth, a neck farther back.
Dominguez said Get Stormy was compromised by the pace duel.
“I wanted to settle off Get Serious but I just couldn’t get off of him," he said. "Whenever I took a hold, he took a hold. I was never able to get out of the duel. Even with that, he relaxed well but just really couldn’t hold on in the stretch.”
Teaks North, who won the Restoration Stakes at Monmouth last August, and Get Stormy each shouldered top weight of 123 pounds. Teaks North improved to 6-1-2 in 16 starts with earnings of $526,964.
The United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) at Monmouth July 2 is possible for Teak North's next race, Sallusto said.
Sent off as the second choice, the winner paid $11.60, $6.40 and $3.20. Sleepless Knight, from the barn of 2011 Belmont Stakes-winning trainer Kelly Breen, returned $11.80 and $5.40 and completed a $116.60 exacta. Get Stormy paid $2.20 to show.
Get Serious, who had won 10 of 13 prior starts on the Monmouth grass, finished a head in front of Nownownow, with Sal the Barber and Roman Tiger following. Voodoo Swinge scratched.