The Bobby Frankel-trained Karen's Caper will be a short price in the $150,000 Eatontown Stakes (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares on the turf Saturday, Monmouth Park's first graded stakes race of the season.
Karen's Caper, a 5-year-old mare by War Chant, has not started since last October, but the way she has been training for Frankel at Hollywood Park suggests she's sitting on a big effort first time out.
"Bobby was getting her ready for one of two races in the East," said Chad Brown, Frankel's assistant at Monmouth. "She was either going to run in the Just a Game (gr. IIT) at Belmont last Saturday, or the Eatontown here. She shipped to New York a week ago, but Bobby decided to run her here. She gets to Monmouth Thursday morning."
Karen's Caper, a Kentucky-bred, raced in England at 2 and for most of her 3-year-old season, winning the Nell Gwynn Stakes (Eng-III) at Newmarket. Trainer John Gosden sent her to the United States in October of 2005 to prepare for the Breeders' Cup.
In her first American start, Karen's Caper finished second, beaten just a nose, in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (gr. IT) at Keeneland. But in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Belmont, she never found her best stride and finished ninth behind Intercontinental, who was trained by Frankel.
Karen's Caper was turned over to Frankel to train last season, and the mare captured the Noble Damsel Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Belmont in September. Her last race of 2006 came in the First Lady (gr. IIT) at Keeneland on Oct. 16, when she was nosed out by Gorella after a long stretch duel.
Brown was in charge of the Frankel string in Kentucky, and that was his first close look at Karen's Caper.
"She's really a nice mare," he said. "I just wish she had gotten her nose up there first."
Karen's Caper has been training steadily at Hollywood Park to get ready for her 5-year-old debut. She shows a solid string of Hollywood Park workouts from April through June.
"Bobby gets them ready to win off the plane, off the van," Brown said. "She'll come out firing."
The Eatontown is also likely to draw Redaspen, who will be looking for her first graded stakes victory. The 5-year-old mare trained by Tim Woolley is unbeaten on New Jersey turf. She won the Navajo Princess Stakes at the Meadowlands last fall, and then came back to Monmouth on May 27 to win the Politely Stakes.
$150,000 Eatontown Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:52 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Redaspen (PA), 119, Victor H. Molina
2. Roshani (KY), 117, Christopher P. DeCarlo
3. Prop Me Up (FL), 117, Charles C. Lopez
4. Royal Pleasure (PA), 117, Eddie Castro
5. Rahys' Appeal (NY), 117, Alan Garcia
6. Pommes Frites (KY), 117, Joe Bravo
7. Karen's Caper (KY), 117, Brice Blanc