Park Avenue Ball Vs. Pletcher Trio in Sapling

Park Avenue Ball, winner of the local Tyro Stakes on July 31, tries graded stakes company for the first time in Saturday's $100,000 Sapling Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-olds at Monmouth Park. Lining up with him in the gate will be a three-prong attack from trainer Todd Pletcher and Flash Stakes (gr. III) winner Primal Storm.

Park Avenue Ball, a New Jersey-bred colt by Citidancer, owned by the Char-Mari Stable of Charles and Marianne Hesse, comes into the six-furlong Sapling off a maiden win at five furlongs and victory in the Tyro Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs.

"I knew he was a good horse by the way he finished in his first start," trainer Jim Ryerson said in a track press release. "He came home the final eighth in :12 that day and drew off to win by five. The horse who was second (Gerald Sleeter's Who's the Cowboy) came back to win impressively in his next race."

Park Avenue Ball was 6-1 when he broke his maiden on July 15, but in the Tyro, where he was coupled with Doctor Voodoo, he was 3-5. And he ran to his odds, circling the leaders around the turn and drawing off to win by 2 1/2 lengths over his stablemate in 1:05.02 for the distance.

"He showed in his first race what his style would be," Ryerson said. "He just sat a little off the leaders and made his move on the turn."

Park Avenue Ball is out of the Cahill Road mare Road to the Ball. He will be ridden by Dale Beckner, who was aboard for his first two starts.

Park Avenue Ball will have his work cut out in the Sapling. Ryerson feels the main threat is Primal Storm, a Steve Asmussen-trained colt who won the Flash Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont by seven lengths on June 4. The Storm Boot colt came back to run third in the Tremont Stakes last out on June 26.

Primal Storm, by Storm Boot out of the stakes-winning Stalwart mare Primistal, was bred in Kentucky by Everest Stables. Prior to the Flash, he broke his maiden by six lengths at Churchill Downs on April 29. A $42,000 Keeneland September yearling, he was purchased by a pinhooking venture consisting of Keith Asmussen, Ronald Winchell, James Cassels, and Connie Scherr. After one workout, they decided to keep the colt.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has three runners for the Sapling, all coming from his base at Saratoga. Upscaled, a son of Sir Cat, drew post 1; Vicarage, from Vicar's first crop drew post 6; and June the Tiger, a son of Storm Cat's son Tiger Ridge, will break from post 7.

Upscaled broke his maiden by a head at Saratoga on Aug. 4 in his lone start, getting five furlongs in :58.69. Bred in Kentucky by Walter B. Mills, Upscaled races for Robert and Beverly Lewis, who purchased him for $425,000 out of the OBS February sale of 2-year-olds in training. He is out of the Red Ryder mare Limestone Landing.

Vicarage, out of the Dixieland Band mare For Dixie, was bred in Kentucky by J.D. Squires and was purchased for $125,000 out of last year's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale by Dogwood Stable. He comes off a fourth-place finish in an allowance at Saratoga on Aug. 4 after breaking his maiden in his debut July 5 at Belmont.

June the Tiger broke his maiden in his first attempt June 6 at Belmont by 6 1/2 lengths, then was fourth in the Tremont, finishing seven lengths behind Primal Storm. Bred in Florida by Steve Tucker, June the Tiger races for John Fort's Peachtree Stable. Out of the Slewpy mare Artic Experience, June the Tiger was a $200,000 yearling purchase out of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale.

The Sapling, first run in 1883, has been run annually since 1946. Long an important race on the 2-year-old calendar, the race has been won by such stars as Needles, Sir Gaylord, Buckpasser, Foolish Pleasure, Alydar, and Rockhill Native. Recent winners include Hennessy, Smoke Glacken, Yes It's True, and Valid Video.

Sapling Stakes (gr. III), $100,000, 2-year-olds, six furlongs, Monmouth Park, Saturday, Aug. 28
PP--Horse, Trainer, Jockey
1--Upscaled, Todd Pletcher, Jose Santos
2--Pop the Question, John Dowd, Victor Molina
3--Punch the Odds, Eddie Broome, Chuck Lopez
4--Park Avenue Ball, Jim Ryerson, Dale Beckner
5--Evil Minister, E. Juvonen, Julian Pimentel
6--Vicarage, Todd Pletcher, Eibar Coa
7--June the Tiger, Todd Pletcher, Chris DeCarlo
8--Primal Storm, Steve Asmussen, Stuart Elliott