Edited press release
New Jersey’s Monmouth Park, home of this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, kicks off its 2007 season May 12 with the $60,000 Decathlon Stakes, which could set the tone for the meet because it matches three of the top local sprinters of recent seasons.
Who’s the Cowboy, Joey P., and Slam Bammy have won 11 Monmouth stakes among them, and with the new dirt surface playing fast so far during morning training, the track record for 5 1/2 furlongs (1:02.89) could be in jeopardy.
Who’s the Cowboy, a 5-year-old Intensity gelding owned by Gerry Sleeter and trained by son Kevin Sleeter, won four stakes at Monmouth last year, and has six stakes victories locally in 18 races at Monmouth. In 2006, Who’s the Cowboy won four in a row, beating Joey P. in the open Teddy Drone and Icecapade Stakes, and also took the Friendly Lover and Colts Neck stakes for New Jersey-breds.
Joey P., trained by Ben Perkins Jr., was the toast of Monmouth as a 3-year-old in 2005, when he won the grade III Jersey Shore Breeders’ Cup Stakes and ran in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) when he was saddled by Frank Costa. The 5-year-old Jersey-bred by Close Up was unbeaten in Monmouth sprint races until last year’s Teddy Drone, when he finished fourth behind Who’s the Cowboy.
Slam Bammy, trained by Joe Orseno, won last year’s Decathlon in which the 6-year-old Grand Slam gelding zipped five furlongs in :58 to win by nearly a length. Slam Bammy comes into this year’s Decathlon off an eighth-place finish after a slow start in the Richter Scale Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park in March, and a fourth in the Sprint Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in April.
Some improvements to accommodate the Breeders’ Cup at Monmouth will be made during the meet, though much was done in the off season. Last year, the facility unveiled its new turf course.