Headed by defending champ Balto Star, a total of 27 older horses have been nominated to the $750,000 United Nations Handicap (gr. IT) to be run on July 3 at Monmouth Park.
Anstu Stable's Balto Star, trained by Todd Pletcher, went wire-to-wire to win last year's renewal while setting a new course mark of 2:12.78, beating the Richard Mandella-trained The Tin Man by a half-length. The 6-year-old is expected to return this season.
A son of Glitterman--Miss Livi, by Devil's Bag, Balto Star was bred in Kentucky by Stuart and Anita Subotnick's Anstu Stable. He has won 11 of 33 career starts and has earned $1,952,946. Last year he also won the W. L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT), Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT), and Whirlaway Handicap (gr. III) in which he defeated Horse of the Year Mineshaft.
He's likely to meet a couple of local hopes in Megantic and In Hand, as well as several shippers. Among those who could ship in are Meteor Storm, trained by Wally Dollase, recent winner of the Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park; Charlie Whittingham Handicap (gr. IT) winner Sabiango, from Bob Baffert's barn; one or two of the Bobby Frankel-trained Epicentre, Gigli, King's Drama, Nothing to Lose, and Vangelis; and Rochester from trainer Jonathan Sheppard.
This will be the 51st running of the U.N. Handicap, a 1 3/8-miles event with a long history of brilliance. Past winners include 20 turf champions, and Hall of Fame members Round Table, Dr. Fager, and Fort Marcy.Nominations for the United Nations Handicap (gr. IT)
Balestrini, Neil Drysdale
Balto Star, Todd Pletcher
Better Talk Now, H. Graham Motion
Bowman Mill, Michael Dickinson
Catechol, Glen. Thompson
Epicentre, Bobby Frankel
Final Prophecy, Jane Cibelli
Gigli, Bobby Frankel
Hard Buck, Kenneth McPeek
Hotstufanthensome, Norman Pointer
In Hand, Philip J. Oliver
Kicken Kris, Michael R. Matz
King's Drama, Bobby Frankel
Loving, Richard E. Dutrow, Jr.
Megantic, Norman Pointer
Meteor Storm, Wally Dollase
Monkey Puzzle, Robert Corrado
Mr O'Brien, Robin L. Graham
Nothing to Lose, Bobby Frankel
Request for Parole, Stanley M. Hough
Rochester, Jonathan E. Sheppard
Sabiango, Bob Baffert
Sarafan, Neil Drysdale
Silverfoot, Dallas Stewart
Spice Island, John S. Pregman Jr.
Touch of Land, Henri-Alex Pantall
Vangelis, Bobby Frankel