A week after winning the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with Ruler On Ice, trainer Kelly Breen and owners George and Lori Hall hope to add to their success with Pants On Fire in the $200,000 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park.
The June 18 Pegasus for 3-year-olds is a major prep for Monmouth's meet centerpiece, the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) on July 31. The 1 1/16-mile Pegasus is the 10th race on the program with a 5:28 p.m. EDT projected post.
Six are entered in the Pegasus, with Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Pants On Fire easily the most accomplished of the group. Six weeks after his Fair Grounds triumph, the Kentucky-bred Jump Start colt went on to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, where he finished ninth at odds of 8-1.
Pants On Fire stalked the pace into the far turn and faded when racing wide to finish 7 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Animal Kingdom in the Derby. After the race, it was discovered that Pants On Fire bled through his lungs.
Breen said he was planning to give the colt additional time to prepare for the Haskell. But that was before Pants On Fire worked a bullet :47 for four furlongs at Monmouth May 27.
“He came around a lot quicker than we thought he would,” the trainer said. “After that fast workout, we had to do something soon with him. I never thought he would go that fast. He was feeling too good.”
Breen gave Pants On Fire a follow-up work June 10 between races at Monmouth to make sure the bleeding issue had been overcome. Pants On Fire responded with a half-mile drill of :45 1/5.
“We really wanted to test his lungs, and he scoped clean after that work,” Breen said. “All his physical signs are great going into this race.”
Pants On Fire leads the field with earnings of $678,100, compiling a 2-3-1 mark in nine races. In his only prior start over the track, he finished fourth in a one-mile maiden special weight his second time out last September.
Rosie Napravnik, who rode Pants On Fire in both the Louisiana and Kentucky Derbys, has the return engagement. Pants On Fire, the 7-5 morning line favorite, will start on the outside of the compact field while carrying top weight of 123 pounds.
Though the race would appear to have plenty of early speed, Breen said Pants On Fire would not change his forward style.
“We’ll be battling on the front end from the start,” he said.
Rush Now is the second choice at 3-1 on the strength of his front-running 4 1/4-length victory in Monmouth's Spend A Buck Stakes, his debut over the track May 22.
Anthony Dutrow trains the son of Tiznow for owners David Cottle and Smart Angle Stable. Rush Now, to be ridden by C.C. Lopez, has won four of nine lifetime starts, including last year's Dover Stakes at Delaware Park.
Clarke Lane, a son of Giant's Causeway who began his career in Great Britain, ships into Monmouth for trainer Justin Sallusto off a pair of races in Southern California this spring. Pegged at 7-2 on the Pegasus morning line, he finished third in the Alydar Stakes on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track May 8.
Owned in part by IEAH Stables, who won the 2008 Haskell with Big Brown , Clarke Lane graduated in his debut at Haydock in May 2010.
“It looked like he was a great fit for the 3-year-old stakes series at Monmouth,” said Nick Sallusto, the son of the trainer who works with IEAH, “and that’s why he’s here. The goal is the Haskell, of course.”
Clarke Lane, who drew the rail in the Pegasus, impressed clockers with his only work over the Monmouth track, breezing seven furlongs from the gate in 1:27 flat June 11. He is expected to come from off the pace. Elvis Trujillo gets the riding call.
Also figuring to be part of the lively pace scenario is Turbo Compressor, a son of Halo's Image trained by Todd Pletcher for P and G Stable and Off the Hook. In his only start at Monmouth May 14, Turbo Compressor drew away from a first-level allowance field to win by 13 1/2 lengths. Mike Luzzi takes the call on the 4-1 morning line hopeful.
Concealed Identity, winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico May 7 when defeating Ruler On Ice, attempts to bounce back form a 10th-place drubbing two weeks later in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Edmond Gaudet trains the Smarty Jones gelding for Linda Gaudet and Morris Bailey.
Shivmangal Racing Stable's Harlan's Hello comes off a nose victory in an optional claiming allowance at Belmont Park May 13 for trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal. The Harlan's Holiday colt ran sixth in the Bay Shore (gr. III) at Aqueduct April 9.
$200,000 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III, Race 10, 5:28 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Clarke Lane (KY), E Trujillo, 117, J Sallusto, 7/2
2. Turbo Compressor (FL), M J Luzzi, 117, T A Pletcher, 4/1
3. Concealed Identity (MD), L Garcia, 121, E D Gaudet, 6/1
4. Harlan's Hello (KY), C H Marquez, Jr., 117, D Shivmangal, 10/1
5. Rush Now (KY), C C Lopez, 121, A W Dutrow, 3/1
6. Pants On Fire (KY), R Napravnik, 123, K J Breen, 7/5