Hampshire Farms' Gimme Credit is one of eight colts and geldings entered in the one-mile Red Bank and figures to be one of the top choices.
After a smart off-the-pace effort to win a seven-furlong overnight stakes on the Belmont Park turf June 17, Hills had big hopes for Gimme Credit heading into the one-mile Poker Handicap (gr. IIIT) over the same layout six weeks ago. But the 4-year-old Artax gelding never fired in his graded stakes debut, finishing a dull seventh.
"We loved him going into the Poker, and I was disappointed with the way he ran," Hills said. "But it turned out he had an entrapped epiglottis and wasn't getting enough air.
"He's had minor surgery to correct that now, and he's been training very well since then," the trainer said.
With three victories at the distance the mile seems ideal for Gimme Credit, who needs a favorable pace scenario to put forth his best.
"He needs some pace to run at," Hills said. "Looking at the field, I think he'll get it."
Gimme Credit, who has done most of his running in New York to take advantage of state bred incentives, will be trying the Monmouth turf for the first time. Eddie Castro rides Gimme Credit, who had a five-race winning streak -- four coming on the grass -- for Hills last year.
Icy Atlantic won the Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) for trainer Todd Pletcher on the Santa Anita turf in April, but is winless in three starts since. Icy Atlantic closed gamely to finish fourth, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths, in Monmouth's Oceanport (gr. IIIT) Aug. 5. Joe Bravo takes over the mount from Garrett Gomez.
The 7-year-old Sand Pit gelding Shake the Bank looks like the speed of the field, although Baron Von Tap, trained by Howard Tesher, and the Justin Nixon-conditioned Jungle Fighter also have plenty of early lick.
Shake the Bank, best known as the rabbit for his Graham Motion-trained stablemate Better Talk Now, gave way in the stretch and finished fourth to Silver Tree in the Caesar Rodney Stakes on the Delaware Park lawn in his last start July 15.
Jungle Fighter comes into the Red Bank after back-to-back stakes wins at Colonial Downs, the last coming July 21 in the Kitten's Joy.
Baron Von Tap also won his most recent start, the one-mile Bob Harding over the Monmouth turf July 14.
In the $100,000 Icecapade Stakes, also on the Monmouth Park program Sept. 1, top sprinter Smokey Stover is the one to watch.
$150,000 Red Bank Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:54 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Jungle Fighter (ON), 117, Charles C. Lopez
2. Baron Von Tap (KY), 117, Rajiv Maragh
3. Icy Atlantic (FL), 121, Joe Bravo
4. Shake the Bank (KY), 117, Tom G. Turner
5. Presious Passion (FL), 117, Edwin L. King, Jr.
6. Gimme Credit (NY), 117, Eddie Castro
7. Touched by Madness (FL), 117, Stewart Elliott
8. Amenable (KY), 117, Pedro L. Cotto, Jr.