Crown Point Seeks Coronation in Big M Opener

(from track report)
Crown Point, runner-up in last year's Pegasus (gr. III), will return to the Meadowlands for the $150,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes (gr. IIIT) on Friday, opening night of the 2006 Thoroughbred meet.

Trained by David Donk, Crown Point is one of eight horses slated to start in the 1 1/16-mile event on the turf. The 33-day Thoroughbred meet runs through Nov. 11.

Winless in 12 starts in 2005, Crown Point was dealt narrow defeats in several stakes races, including the $250,000 Pegasus to start last year's meeting at the Meadowlands, and the $300,00 Jamaica (gr. IIT) at Belmont.

"He ran well in the Pegasus and after that we slipped the blinkers on him," trainer David Donk said. "He was a good second to Magna Graduate, but he seemed to need the blinkers. He loomed up to Magna Graduate, but if he had the blinkers on that night, I think he would have been even better and might have won."

The 4-year-old colt received a 6 1/2-month layoff before returning to the races in the Bowling Green (gr. IIT) on July 15 at Belmont.

"There was a little issue with him over the winter, and he had a long break," Donk said. "We had done a scintigraphy (bone scan), and it lit up the bottom of the cannon bone, which required giving him 60 days off. However, he was going to get some time off anyway."

Crown Point finished second in his season debut, just a half-length behind Go Deputy, who went on to win the Sword Dancer (gr. IT). In his next two starts at Belmont, Crown Point finished seventh in the Sword Dancer and sixth in the Man O' War (gr. IT), won by Cacique.

"He ran a bang-up race in the Bowling Green in his first start back," Donk said. "I think that might be the best race he has run to date. He ran into some trouble in the Sword Dancer and I think he was in a little over his head in the Man O' War against Cacique."

Crown Point will break from post 8 in the Cliff Hanger and will be ridden by Jose Lezcano.

"I hope Friday's race is a softer spot for him," Donk said. "The weather is a little iffy and I think it is an advantage that he can run either way (turf or dirt)."

$150,000 Cliffhanger Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 10:17 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Old Forester (KY), 117, Edgar S. Prado
2. Senor Swinger (KY), 117, Shaun Bridgmohan
3. Indy Wind (KY), 117, Mario Madrid
4. Etesaal (KY), 117, Eibar Coa
5. Spring House (KY), 119, Jose A. Velez Jr.
6. Night Chapter (GB), 119, Javier Castellano
7. Tune of the Spirit (FL), 117, Felix L. Ortiz
8. Crown Point (KY), 117, Jose Lezcano