With Anticipation leads Denon to the finish line in the United Nations Handicap.

With Anticipation leads Denon to the finish line in the United Nations Handicap.

AP/NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Monmouth Park Race Report: Finished Business

Published in the July 13 issue of The Blood-Horse
Ah, sweet revenge! Last season, Augustin Stable's With Anticipation crossed the finish line first in the $500,000 United Nations Handicap (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park, but the stewards disqualified him to second for bothering the Bobby Frankel-trained Senure, who was declared the winner. To rub salt into the wound, the course record that With Anticipation set was credited to Senure.

This year, as if the script had been written beforehand, the nearly white With Anticipation returned to Oceanport, still spry at age seven, and fended off three California-based turf pros to claim the crystal trophy that had eluded him in 2001. Oddly enough, his neck victory was over a Frankel-trained horse, Flaxman Holdings' Denon.

"I don't see it as revenge, exactly," said trainer Jonathan Sheppard after With Anticipation registered his 13th career victory. "I see it as unfinished business. He has vindicated himself."

With Anticipation had failed to win in three starts this season, after completing 2001 with a superb record of four wins from nine starts, including the Man o' War (gr. IT) and Sword Dancer (gr. IT) Handicaps after his United Nations disqualification. Sheppard said that the son of Relaunch had raced well while not winning, and his previous effort in the Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont, in which he finished fourth, was deceptively good.

"He was compromised by the inside post that day," Sheppard said. "He likes to do things his own way, and he couldn't while trapped down along the rail."

Jed Cohen's Suances, a speedy frontrunner who'd captured the Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star for trainer Darrell Vienna last out, was favored at 2-1, followed closely by With Anticipation and Charles Whittingham Handicap (gr. IT) winner Denon.

At the start, Suances made a right-hand turn into With Anticipation, who was in the next stall, but after a few bumps jockey Pat Day straightened the gray up and sent him after that rival, who went straight to the lead. The old boy loped a length behind for the first mile on the firm ground, and when Day asked him to run in the far turn, he rushed up and stuck his head in front.

From the back of the field, however, were two horses who had launched furious rallies--Denon and Sarafan--and suddenly there were four horses across the course at the head of the stretch, brushing and jostling as they hurtled toward the wire. Despite the tight quarters, With Anticipation never yielded his lead down the lane and gutted out the victory, setting another course record of 2:12.81 for the 1 3/8 miles. This time, the record would be credited to him.

Sheppard said he does stamina-building work with With Anticipation at his farm near Kennett Square, Pa., and sends him to Delaware Park for speed-sharpening drills on the main track.

"He was a bit rambunctious when he was younger, but he's gotten mellower now," he said. "He's got a presence about him--he knows he's special."

The Sword Dancer at Saratoga and either the Man o' War or Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Belmont would most likely be the same path With Anticipation will follow to the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) this year, Sheppard indicated. Lifetime, With Anticipation has earned $1,557,204 from 40 starts.

At the Wire
Thirty-five years ago, when the Matchmaker Handicap was born at Atlantic City Race Course, the 1 1/8-mile turf event for fillies and mares was billed as the "race for love and money." This year, however, there was no love connected with the Matchmaker (gr. IIIT), because for the first time no stallion seasons were awarded in conjunction with the purse money.

"We're going to make an effort to get sponsorship for the race next season," said Monmouth's vice president, Bob Kulina. Nevertheless, the Matchmaker was run on July 7 and was won by John Franks' Clearly a Queen, who corralled the front-running Platinum Tiara in deep stretch to post a two-length victory in 1:47.76 under Eibar Coa.

Favored Siringas was second, while Platinum Tiara held third. Trained by Teresa Pompay, the 5-year-old daughter of Lucky North has now won eight times from 27 starts and $444,532.

(Chart, Equibase)