A field of 10, including 2010 winner Chinchon, will assemble at Monmouth Park July 2 for the $750,000 United Nations Stakes (gr. IT).
The 1 3/8-mile U.N., one of the most anticipated events of the summer season, will go as race 11 on the 12-race program. It is slated to go off at 5:59 p.m. EDT.
In addition to the Irish-bred Chinchon, three other grade or group I winners are among the 10 entrants: Chilean mare Belle Watling, Teaks North, and French mare Stacelita. Also in the field is last year's Breeders' Cup Marathon (gr. III) winner, Eldaafer.
Chinchon, to be ridden by Garrett Gomez, drew the far outside post.
Inaugurated at Atlantic City Racecourse in 1953, the U.N. moved to Monmouth Park in 1999. The turf race has seen 20 champions and six Breeders’ Cup winners compete.
The United Nations Stakes is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” series of races. The U.N. winner will receive an automatic berth into the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
Teaks North won the Monmouth Stakes (gr. IIIT) at nine furlongs June 12 as a tune-up for the United Nations and is the 123-pound high weight. Trained by Justin Sallusto for Jules Boutelle, the 4-year-old Northern Afleet gelding rallied to defeat U.N. foe Sleepless Knight by three-quarters of a length over a turf course rated "good."
“He loves Monmouth,” Sallusto said, “and I love the fact that I just have to walk him over there.”
In February, Teaks North surprised the field in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT), also at 1 1/8 miles, to spring a 25-1 upset with a late-charging nose victory. The U.N. would be his longest trip in a 16-race career that includes six victories and earnings of $526,964. Teaks North drew post 2 and will be ridden by Eddie Castro, who was aboard for the Monmouth Stakes victory.
“The distance should be no problem,” Sallusto said. “In fact, it might benefit him. After that last race, Castro couldn’t pull him up. He’ll run all day. It’s all about the ride anyway. Get the right trip, and you’re okay.”
Just to the inside of Teaks North, Southern California shipper Bourbon Bay will attempt to nab his first graded stakes win away from Santa Anita Park for trainer Neil Drysdale. The 5-year-old Sligo Bay gelding has earned four grade II victories in the past 17 months at Santa Anita for owners David and Jill Heerensperger.
Bourbon Bay is coming off a third-place finish in the the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park June 11, his first race since an unplaced showing in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-IT) in March. Alan Garcia has the riding assignment for the first time on Bourbon Bay, who carries 120 pounds.
“I see this as a two-horse race,” Sallusto said. “My horse and Bourbon Bay. My horse has moved forward in every race and has matured this season.
The million dollar earner Chinchon carries 118. He has not won in four starts since last year's United Nations triumph, which he accomplished in fine closing style by 1 1/2 lengths over Take the Points and Winchester on firm going at odds of 7-2. Carlos Laffon-Parias conditions the 6-year-old son of Marju for Darpat S.L. Stables.
Fifth in the Dubai Sheema Classic to begin his 2011 campaign, Chinchon returned to run fifth again in the group I Singapore Air International Cup May 22, finishing two lengths behind the victorious Gitano Hernando.
Gomez was aboard Chinchon for the first time in last year's United Nations. The top American jockey rode the bay horse once again in the Canadian International (Can-IT) at Woodbine in the fall, finishing sixth.
Stacelita, a 5-year-old French-bred mare, makes her United States debut for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget and owner Martin Schwartz. The daughter of Monsun was an easy winner of the French Oaks (Fr-I) as a 3-year-old in 2009 and validated that effort last season with a victory in the Darley Prix Jean Romanet (Fr-I) at Longchamp.
A lifetime earner of more than $1.5 million to lead the U.N. field, Stacelita has raced just once in 2011, finishing a non-threatening third in a group III event at Longchamp June 13.
Joe Bravo has the call on Stacelita, who breaks from post 7.
The other mare in the race, 5-year-old Belle Watling, is part of an entry with Pulsion owned in partnership by Flying Zee Stable and trained by Patrick Biancone. A multiple grade I winner in her native Chile, winning 13 of 16 races, she has not had much success in four U.S. starts. The daughter of Dushyantor finished fourth most recently in Belmont Park's Sheepshead Bay Stakes (gr. IIT) after setting the pace on the inner track.
The other half of the entry, Pulsion, is seeking his first stakes win. The 4-year-old gelding by Include was on the Triple Crown trail last year and has raced just once on turf, finishing fifth in a first-level allowance at Monmouth just over a year ago.
“Pulsion will be the rabbit,” Biancone said, “to ensure a good pace.
“All the turf races these days seem to turn into a half-mile race,” the trainer said. “They go 1:16, 1:17 (for six furlongs), and then sprint home. So we’ll have a pacemaker in there to ensure a good pace.”
Alghuwayriyah Stable's Eldaafer, a 6-year-old A.P. Indy gelding, has won two of six starts on turf. His biggest win for trainer Diane Alvarado came in last fall's BC Marathon, which he captured by nearly two lengths. He is a 10-time winner in 28 lifetime starts.
Sleepless Knight, competing for trainer Kelly Breen and owners George and Lori Hall, just missed to Teaks North in the Monmouth Stakes. He finished strongly on the outside for jockey Jose Lezcano, who retains the mount. The lightly-raced War Chant 5-year-old has won four of 11 starts but is seeking his first stakes victory.
Bold Hawk, now 7, won the Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT) in 2007 but was out of action for nearly three years shortly after that. Trained by James Toner, the Silver Hawk gelding has lost four straight since returning last fall and comes off a fifth-pace effort in Belmont's Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) on a yielding turf June 11.
Monmouth specialist General Perfect is coming off a win in the 5 1/2-furlong John McSorley Stakes June 12, a race he also won in 2010. The 8-year-old is 10-for-20 in his career at Monmouth (combined turf and dirt) and zero-for-22 elsewhere.
$750,000 United Nations Stakes (gr. IT, Race 11, 5:59 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Bourbon Bay (KY), A Garcia, 120, N D Drysdale
2. Teaks North (FL), E Castro, 123, J Sallusto
3. Eldaafer (KY), P Lopez, 118, D Alvarado
4. a-Pulsion (FL), C Hill, 118, P L Biancone
5. Sleepless Knight (KY), J Lezcano, 118, K J Breen
6. Bold Hawk (KY), E Trujillo, 118, J J Toner
7. Stacelita (FR), J Bravo, 118, J Rouget
8. a-Belle Watling (CHI), E S Prado, 113, P L Biancone
9. General Perfect (NJ), S Uske, 118, G R Thompson
10. Chinchon (IRE), G K Gomez, 118, C Laffon-Parias
a- coupled entry