Get Stormy , winner of consecutive grade I turf events this spring, appears to be taking a couple of steps down the class ladder in the $250,000 Monmouth Stakes (gr. IIIT) June 12 at Monmouth Park.
Except this renewal of the 1 1/8-mile turf test comes up quite a bit tougher than an ordinary grade III. Included in the eight-horse field is Teaks North, a grade I winner at Gulfstream Park in February, grade II victor Nownownow, and the first two finishers in last year's Monmouth, course-loving Get Serious and Roman Tiger.
Still, it's probably preferable to facing two-time Eclipse Award-winning turf champion Gio Ponti in the 10-furlong Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) this weekend. That was the other option trainer Thomas Bush was considering for Sullimar Stable's million-dollar earner Get Stormy, a 5-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic —Foolish Gal, by Kiri's Clown.
“I can’t deal with that mile and a quarter,” Bush told Daily Racing Form recently. “There’s nothing more than a mile in that horse’s pedigree.”
In his past two starts, Get Stormy won both the 1 1/8-mile Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs and the Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland in front-running fashion.
Get Stormy caught a "good" turf course at Keeneland April 15 and won easily by 2 3/4 lengths. He benefited from some soft going in the Turf Classic as well, Bush believes, though the Churchill course was rated firm on Kentucky Derby day May 7. Get Stormy dug in for the three-quarters of a length triumph over Smart Bid while the slow winning time of 1:50.81 supports Bush's contention.
Winner of the Elkwood Stakes in his only previous stop at Monmouth last spring, Get Stormy went on to capture a pair of grade II grass events at Saratoga during the summer, the Fourstardave and Bernard Baruch handicaps.
Ramon Dominguez gets the return call on Get Stormy, a lifetime winner of 10 of 22 races and $1,131,197. Dominguez was aboard the bay in the Turf Classic.
Teaks North defeated Get Stormy in the Gulfsteam Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) Feb. 5. The 4-year-old Northern Afleet gelding won the nine-furlong test by a nose over Smart Bid, with Get Stormy a length back in third.
Trained by Justin Sallusto for owner Julia Boutelle, Teaks North has been out of the money in three start since then, however, and finished seventh last time at 23-1 in the Turf Classic, 3 1/2 lengths behind Get Stormy. Eddie Castro draws the riding assignment.
Teaks North and Get Stormy were each assigned 123 pounds, spotting five pounds to each of their six rivals.
Seven-year-old Get Serious, who figures to keep Get Stormy company on the front end, faltered in his only start so far this year, finishing last of nine after a poor start in the one-mile Elkwood, which came off the turf May 21.
Owned by J.M. Dinan and Phantom House Farm, that was not the City Zip gelding's usual result at Monmouth, where he has won 12 of his 19 races on both turf and dirt. Last year, he won four times on the turf at the New Jersey track, three of them in grade III events. That included the Monmouth Stakes, in which he led for nearly the entire journey at odds of 7-1 and finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Roman Tiger.
Get Serious went over $1 million in career earnings ($1,001,891) with his repeat win in the Red Bank Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth last September, when he defeated Nownownow by a neck. Out of action until his return last month, he has won 13 of 31 lifetime starts. Get Serious drew the rail with regular rider Pablo Fragoso aboard.
Nownownow, out of the Patrick Biancone barn for owner/breeder Fab Oak Stable and partners, is making his first appearance since the tough loss in the Red Bank, in which he closed willingly from last. The 6-year-old son of Whywhywhy has lost seven in a row since taking the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) on Santa Anita's former Pro-Ride main track in January 2009.
Roman Tiger, owned and trained by Dennis Manning, comes into the Monmouth off a second-place finish in an optional claiming allowance over a good turf at Delaware Park May 23.
Trainer Christophe Clement entered a pair, Sal the Barber and Voodoo Swinge, both coming off good stakes efforts. Lewis Schaffel's Sal the Barber could not catch Straight Story late in the Fort Marcy Stakes (gr. IIIT) May 7 at Belmont and settled for third, beaten by 1 3/4 lengths. Green Hill Farm's Voodoo Swinge missed by neck when second in the Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder April 30.
The Monmouth, the only graded stakes in North America on the day following the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), is race 11 on the program and is expected to go off at 5:30 p.m. EDT.
$250,000 Monmouth Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 11, 5:30 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Get Serious (NY), P Fragoso, 118, J H Forbes
2. Teaks North (FL), E Castro, 123, J Sallusto
3. Get Stormy (KY), R A Dominguez, 123, T M Bush
4. Roman Tiger (FL), P Lopez, 118, D J Manning
5. Sleepless Knight (KY), J Lezcano, 118, K J Breen
6. Sal the Barber (KY), C H Velasquez, 118, C Clement
7. Voodoo Swinge (KY), R Maragh, 118, C Clement
8. Nownownow (KY), J Bravo, 118, P L Biancone