Sunday's 61st running of the $300,000 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup (gr. II), the premier filly-mare event of Monmouth's summer season, drew a select six-horse field.
The group includes two previous Molly Pitcher winners in Capeside Lady (2005), now trained by Scott Blasi, and the Todd Pletcher-conditioned La Reason (2004), and a division stalwart whose season has been curtailed by injury in Rick Porter's Round Pond.
And then there's Friel's for Real, Gilbert Campbell's 6-year-old mare who comes into the 1 1/8-mile event with a perfect record at Monmouth. The daughter of Sword Dance has made two trips to the Jersey Shore for trainer Ned Allard, and has won the last two runnings of the Lady's Secret Stakes, one of the traditional features on Haskell Day.
Last year, Friel's for Real used her stretch kick to run down a good field that included La Reason (who finished third). This season, the Florida-bred mare stayed closer to the pace and blew away a good field that included Capeside Lady, who was second but 5 1/2 lengths back.
This will be the first start for Friel's for Real in the Molly Pitcher, but Allard thinks she's up to the challenge.
"I thought she was coming into that last race super," the trainer said, referring to the Lady's Secret, "and then she ran super. Now she's coming into this race super again, and I'm hoping she'll run the same."
"This is a tougher spot, of course," he said, "but she's so good right now that I look for her to run her race. She ran a monster last time, and we think she'll give us the same race this time."
Monmouth leading jockey Joe Bravo was aboard Friel's for Real last time but will be on Round Pond, the 121-pound top weight, Sunday. Eddie Castro will ride Friel's for Real instead.Round Pond, who was injured after winning the Azeri Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park in March, makes her first start for trainer Michael Matz. Owner Porter transferred his horses from trainer John Servis' stable in May. Round Pond won six of eight starts under Servis' care with earnings of $596,300.
$300,000 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 4:21 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Promenade Girl (MD), 117, Jeremy Rose
2. Friel's for Real (FL), 119, Eddie Castro
3. Lexi Star (MD), 117, Charles C. Lopez
4. Round Pond (KY), 121, Joe Bravo
5. Capeside Lady (NY), 117, Shaun Bridgmohan
6. La Reason (KY), 115, Christopher P. DeCarlo