Miami Mile (gr. IIIT) winner Summer Front takes on Howe Great and Hudson Steele, the 2-3 finishers in the Oceanport Stakes (gr. IIIT), in the $100,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes (gr. IIIT) Aug. 25 at Monmouth Park.
The 1 1/16-mile Cliff Hanger, scheduled as Race 10 with an approximate post time of 5:33 p.m. EDT, drew a field of seven older horses of which Summer Front carries the 120-pound highweight from the outside under New Jersey riding ace Joe Bravo.
The Christophe Clement trainee has not raced for Waterford Stable since the April 20 Miami Mile but is already a grade II winner, having taken the 2012 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont Park
by half a length over Howe Great. Last year he also finished third in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park
and was third in the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont. The 4-year-old son of War Front raced once before the Miami Mile this season, finishing third in a Gulfstream Park allowance in March, before taking the Calder Casino & Race Course test.
Howe Great, a 4-year-old Hat Trick
runner who races for Team Valor International, won the 2012 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) while under the care of trainer Graham Motion. Now trained by Rick Mettee, he's been knocking at the door in his past two starts, with a runner-up effort in the July 4 Poker Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont 1 1/2 lengths behind King Kreesa
—who went on to run second to Horse of the Year Wise Dan
—and in the Oceanport July 28, closest of 9 when finishing 5 3/4 lengths behind Silver Max
. Regular rider Alan Garcia will be aboard from post 3, part of a 118-pound assignment.
R R Partners' Hudson Steele rallied well in the Oceanport to get the place, but was still 1 3/4 lengths back of Howe Great. On June 22 he took the one-mile Da Hoss Stakes at Colonial Downs
for trainer Todd Pletcher. He is also a grade II winner, with the 2012 Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico Race Course
to his credit. This year the Da Hoss was his only victory in two starts after a significant layup. He returned to win that race when starting for the first time since a sixth-place finish in the Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont last July.
The 6-year-old Johannesburg gelding has been plagued with start-and-stop campaigns, but has come back to win each time. He raced just twice in 2009, four times in 2010, twice in 2011, and four times in 2012.
George and Lori Hall's stakes winner Sleepless Knight
, a 7-year-old War Chant
runner who was third in the 2011 Cliff Hanger; High Point Thoroughbred Partners' recent allowance winner Fire Alarm
and Parx Racing starter handicap winner Hobo Ridge
; and 2012 Cliff Hanger winner Tune Me In
complete the field.
Tune Me In, a Florida-bred 6-year-old Concorde's Tune
gelding trained by Bruce Alexander, took the Oceanport and Cliff Hanger back-to-back last year, but has not won since then. Last time out, he finished seventh in this season's Oceanport. His best effort of 2013 was a runner-up finish three-quarters of a length behind Za Approval
in the one-mile Red Bank Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth in May.
$100,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes (gr. III, Race 10, approximate post 5:33 p.m. EDT), 3YOs & Up, 1 1/16 miles (turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Tune Me In (FL), E. Trujillo, 116, B F Alexander
2. Sleepless Knight (KY), P. Lopez, 116, K J Breen
3. Howe Great (KY), A. Garcia, 118, R C Mettee
4. Hudson Steele (KY), C.P. DeCarlo, 116, T A Pletcher
5. Hobo Ridge (FL), P.L. Cotto, Jr., 118, J Navarro
6. Fire Alarm (KY), G. Saez, 116, J Navarro
7. Summer Front (KY), J. Bravo, 120, C Clement