Henny Hughes, who broke his maiden at Monmouth Park in his first start one year ago, returns to the track to kick off his 3-year-old campaign in the $150,000 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at six furlongs on Saturday.Owned by Zabeal Racing International, the colt is now trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, who took over from Patrick Biancone last year before the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Henny Hughes finished second to Stevie Wonderboy.Henny Hughes has put on thousands of miles since that Oct. 29 event, none of them on the racetrack."He went to Dubai after that, and was in training there," McLaughlin said Wednesday morning from his Belmont Park headquarters. "But he never raced. They sent him back to me on April 1, and he's been training here ever since."The Jersey Shore will be Henny Hughes's first start in eight months, and just the seventh of his career. The colt followed his maiden win at Monmouth by taking the Tremont at Belmont and the Saratoga Special (gr. II) upstate before running second in three straight grade I events – the Hopeful at Saratoga, the Champagne, and the BC Juvenile at Belmont."He's really improved tremendously over the winter. He looks fabulous," McLaughlin said. "Weightwise, he's perfect, and his hair coat is good. And he's been training well this month."McLaughlin said he chose the Jersey Shore for the colt's 3-year-old debut for several reasons."It's a good place to get him started," McLaughlin said. "He might need a race to get into his best form, and the Jersey Shore is the right spot because he won at Monmouth last year."
The trainer said Henny Hughes' main goal this summer will be the King's Bishop (gr. I) over seven furlongs at Saratoga Aug. 26. "We'll start him sprinting this year, and then see where we go from there."The Jersey Shore promises to be a lively sprint. Among those with Monmouth credentials pointing for the race are He's Got Grit, who won the Sapling (gr. III) and Tyro stakes at Monmouth last year for trainer Steve Asmussen, and Garibaldi, who won the local Gilded Time last out for Biancone.