After giving way in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in his most recent start, Flashpoint returns to sprinting in the $150,000 Jersey Shore Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park July 3 against a field that includes the well-regarded Cal Nation.
The two likely favorites start right next to each other among the seven 3-year-olds entered in the Jersey Shore, with the Wesley Ward-conditioned Flashpoint in post 5 and the Todd Pletcher-trained Cal Nation one slot to his outside. The race, at six furlongs, is the ninth on the Monmouth program with a 4:58 p.m. EDT probable start.
Peachtree Stable's Flashpoint, a 7 1/4-length winner of Gulfstream Park's seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) in February, was something of a "buzz" horse heading into the Florida Derby (gr. I). He stalked the pace in the April 3 test for Cornelio Velasquez but faded in his two-turn debut and finished a well-beaten fourth behind the victorious Dialed In .
Ward brought the son of Pomeroy back seven weeks later for the Preakness and the flashy gray/roan colt set a contested pace in the 1 3/16-mile classic before stopping in the stretch. He finished 11th.
Velasquez, who has ridden the colt in all four of his previous races -- including two victories -- has the assignment once again on the 123-pound high weight.
WinStar Farm's Cal Nation, spanked in Aqueduct's Jerome Stakes (gr. II) in his stakes debut in April, rebounded with a 5 1/2-length romp in a second-level allowance race at six furlongs May 26 at Belmont. The son of Distorted Humor beat just four rivals that day but came home impressively under a hand ride from jockey John Velazquez.
Cal Nation has been favored in all four of his starts, winning twice. His last-place showing in the Jerome behind him, the bay ridgling goes for his first stakes win once again with Chris DeCarlo aboard for the first time.
Zero Rate Policy, owned by Klaravich Stables & W.H. Lawrence, presents an intriguing alternative to the first two. The Trippi gelding has won his past three starts following a runner-up finish in his maiden debut at Gulfstream in March.
His last two victories have come at Monmouth this spring for trainer Teresa Pompay, including the six-furlong Rumson Stakes June 11. He vied for the lead along the inside in the Rumson and darted away in the lane to win by nearly five lengths. The chestnut drew the rail for the Jersey Shore and will be ridden by Carlos Marquez Jr.
Trainer Bob Baffert ships in C J Russell for owner Mike Pegram. Unbeaten in two starts, both at Churchill Downs, the El Corredor colt has been working well at Belmont for his stakes debut. Alan Garcia rides.
Royal Currier has been first or second in 10 of 12 races, including six wins, and is coming off a front-running minor stakes tally in his initial grass start June 19 at Monmouth. Trained by Patricia Farro for Mat Stables, the Red Bullet gelding ran fourth in Aqueduct's Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) April 9. He broke his maiden on the main track at Monmouth last year.
Tony Dutrow tries graded company for the first time with Parent's Honor, a seven-length optional claiming winner at Delaware Park June 4. Chipshot, representing the Steve Asmussen barn, missed by a neck when second in the Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness undercard May 21 at Pimlico.
$150,000 Jersey Shore Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 4:58 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 6 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Zero Rate Policy (FL), C H Marquez Jr., 121, T M Pompay
2. Parent's Honor (KY), J Rose, 117, A W Dutrow
3. C J Russell (KY), A Garcia, 117, B Baffert
4. Royal Currier (FL), A Serpa, 119, P Farro
5. Flashpoint (FL), C H Velasquez, 123, W A Ward
6. Cal Nation (KY), C P DeCarlo, 117, T A Pletcher
7. Chipshot (FL), E Trujillo, 117, S M Asmussen