American Freedom Sneaks Home in Red Bank

(from Monmouth Park report)
American Freedom, guided by Jose Velez Jr., drove through along the inside and was up in deep stretch for an upset victory in the $150,000 Red Bank Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the soft Monmouth Park turf Saturday.

American Freedom, one of two New Jersey-breds in the field of eight, stalked the early pace of Spruce Run and then rallied strongly along the inside rail to take command in the final strides. Spruce Run gamely held second, a neck behind the winner, and a neck in front of Royal Affirmed. Remind, the 6-5 favorite, finished fifth in a blanket finish.

Jamie Woodington trains the 7-year-od son of Marquetry, who earned $90,000 for owner Freedom Acres Inc. The gray/roan gelding started as an 11-1 outsider and returned $25.80, $12.20, and $5.40. Spruce Run, sent off at 13-1 with Jose Ferrer aboard, paid $9.60 and $6.60 and completed a $176 exacta. Royal Affirmed and Chuck Lopez paid $5.40 to show.

The winner, bred by owner Yaroslaw Kolybabiuk at his New Jersey farm, ran the one-mile distance in 1:43 on a course slowed by heavy rain. It was his 10th victory in 23 starts at Monmouth and came in his first start of the 2005 season. Last year, he finished third in the Red Bank.

"The plan was to sit third behind the two horses with early speed, but he tried to run off on me, so I had to take back and cover him up," Velez said. "When I got behind horses, he settled in. Then I just waited until we hit the top of the stretch, and when I asked him to run, he rebroke."

"He had a great winter down in Camden (S.C.)," Woodington said, "and he came back up here happy and healthy. I thought we had a good shot, because he runs well every time."

Big Booster finished fourth, followed by Remind, who dueled for the lead through the stretch before giving way late. Then came Cottage, Midnight Express, and Trefinity. Tap Day, Ricardo A, and Trade Fair scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)