Edited from Monmouth Park reports
Harold L. Queen's Burning Roma, who has earned $1.4-million, is the most accomplished member of the prospective field for Saturday's $100,000 Red Bank Handicap (gr. IIIT), highlight of Monmouth Park's opening day program. The 6-year-old by Rubiano has won stakes on dirt and on turf and has lifetime earnings of $1,430,037 for a career record of 12-5-6 in 32 starts. The mile on grass of the Red Bank should be to Burning Roma's liking, and he tuned up for the race by breezing five furlongs in 1:01 over the main track Monday morning. "He worked great," said trainer Heather Giglio. "He went the half in :48, and he galloped out strong." Giglio has trained Burning Roma the past three years. When the big bay raced in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) in 2001 (he finished third, less than a length behind Point Given), he was trained by Tony Dutrow. Giglio tried Burning Roma on the grass for the first time at Tampa Bay Downs in February of 2003. His pedigree is strong on turf, and the Kentucky-bred responded with a five-length victory in that year's edition of the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup Stakes. He was headed for last year's running of the Red Bank, but problems developed. In fact, he raced only twice in New Jersey last year. "He bled badly in a workout and I had to stop on him," Giglio said. "He ran in the Oceanport, but that was off the turf. He ran once at the Meadowlands, but then he popped an abscess in his foot, and that was it for the year. The whole season, it was just one thing after the other." Giglio said that Burning Roma is on top of his game now. After winning at Tampa Bay, he ran in the Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IIT) at Keeneland on April 9. Despite being bumped soundly and being carried out in deep stretch, Burning Roma was second, beaten just a half-length by Perfect Soul, the Canadian champion. They raced the mile on firm turf in a torrid 1:33 2/5. Jesus Castanon, who has been aboard Burning Roma in his last four starts, will be in from Kentucky to take the mount Saturday. The only other millionaire nominated to the 31st running of the Red Bank Handicap, Demarco and Disano's North East Bound, will not be ready for the race, trainer Bill Perry said. "The long-range plan was to have him start the season in the Red Bank," Perry said, "but he's just not ready." The 8-year-old son of D'Accord, who has won 12 of 45 lifetime starts and earned $1,357,148, has not run since he finished eighth in the Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont last Oct. 4. "He's been breezing for a couple of weeks now," Perry said, "but he needs more work before he runs. He's been acting like a 2-year-old lately, bucking and squealing when he comes off the track."