(From Monmouth Park)
If any 2-year-old has a license to do well in the $150,000 Sapling Stakes
(gr. III) Sept. 5 at Monmouth Park, it’s Daniel Ljoka’s homebred Awesome Son
. The chestnut gelding is by Pure Precision
, out of the Defrere mare Defrills, and that’s successful Monmouth breeding all the way.
Trainer Tim Kelly knows that, and he’s looking for heredity to have its way with Awesome Son in the six-furlong test, the feature of Monmouth’s 10-race program. A field of eight juveniles was entered.
“His sire won the Sapling and Tyro,” Kelly said with a smile. “Hopefully that will rub off. And his dam, Defrills, was a winner here when Eddie Broome had her.”
The record books show that Pure Precision, a Montbrook colt, won both the Tyro and Sapling Stakes in 2001 when he was trained by John Tammaro III. Those were his only two lifetime starts at Monmouth. Defrills broke her maiden at Monmouth in her second career start in 2004, after a poor effort in the mud in her career debut on Aug. 15. That last stat could be significant.
Awesome Son debuted June 20 at Monmouth, and the track was a sea of slop. The colt had trouble out of the gate, was sent to the lead, and then did not handle the footing, finishing fifth of six. On Aug. 1, Awesome Son broke his maiden with a flourish at five furlongs, winning by 6 1/2 lengths in :56 3/5 after setting torrid fractions of :21 1/5 for the quarter and :44 flat for the half.
“That was the fastest 2-year-old race of the meet,” Kelly said. “And that first quarter was super fast. The jockey (Daniel Centeno) actually eased up the last part, or he might have broken the track record (:56.17).”
Kelly said that Awesome Son, a ridgeling in his first start, was gelded before his second outing and that seemed to help him show his true speed.
Kelly admiited the horse to beat is 2-1 morning-line favorite Western Smoke
, trained by Steve Asmussen. That gray colt, who is the most accomplished runner in the field of eight with two stakes wins in five career starts, also has a Monmouth claim to fame. His sire is Smoke Glacken
, who won the Sapling in 1996, and then was named champion sprinter the next season.
$150,000 Sapling (gr. III, Race 9, 4:50 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, 6 Furlongs (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. El Rocco (PA), E Castro, 121, B N Levine 9/2
2. Not Macho Any More (FL), R Migliore, 121, R A Violette, Jr. 3/1
3. Come From Behind (NY), J Bravo, 121, W I Mott 4/1
4. Awesome Son (FL), D Centeno, 121, T J Kelly 5/1
5. Western Smoke (KY), E Trujillo, 121, S M Asmussen 2/1
6. One Roll (MD), R Alvarado Jr., 121, A F Allen, III 15/1
7. Whats Up Cuge (NJ), J A Velez Jr., 121, K J Breen 10/1
8. Toccet's Charm (VA), P Morales, 121, K G Furlong 15/1