Anstu Stable's Balto Star, a 37-1 shot making the most of his inside post, took command at the start and repulsed all challengers in the stretch to score an upset victory in the $750,000 United Nations Handicap (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park on Saturday.The field was closing in at the wire, but with Jose Velez Jr. urging him on, Balto Star scored by a half-length over The Tin Man, who was a nose in front of Lunar Sovereign. Denon, the 6-5 favorite in the turf route, finished fifth.Balto Star raced the 1 3/8-mile feature in 2:12 3/5 to break the course record set in last year's United Nations 'Cap by With Anticipation. That 8-year-old warrior finished last of seven in this running.The winner, trained by Todd Pletcher, paid $76, $28.40 and $15 as the longest shot on the board and topped a $422.80 exacta with The Tin Man. He earned a winner's prize of $450,000 for his owners, and raised his career bankroll to $1,630,446. The Tin Man returned $8.20 and $8. Lunar Sovereign's show was $8.60. "He stole the race," exclaimed Anthony Sciametta Jr., assistant to Pletcher who trained Balto Star at Monmouth. "The boss (Pletcher) said to put him on the lead and see how far he can go. That's what Jose did. This is a very nice horse. He's been training well here and when he's at the top of his game he can do whatever you ask him to do."A delighted Velez said, "They trained this horse perfectly. I was just a passenger today. They let me go early and I had no pressure until the top of the stretch. He rebroke at the sixteenth pole and just took off again."This is definitely the biggest win of my career. The last Grade 1 I won was 20 years ago, the Hialeah Turf Cup on Nijinsky's Secret."In the $50,000 Lamplighter Stakes for 3-year-olds, Claiborne Farm's Stroll, confidently ridden by Jerry Bailey, took command in midstretch and drew off to score by nearly three lengths over Purely Classic.
Stroll, the 1-2 favorite in the field of nine, raced the mile and a sixteenth over a firm turf course in 1:40 and paid $3, $2.10 and $2.10 across the board. Purely Classic, a clear second over Ali's Pride, completed the $8.20 exacta.(Chart, Equibase)