Master Command will carry top weight of 121 pounds while breaking from the rail Saturday at Monmouth Park in the 72nd Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) and face seven rivals. The Iselin, worth $250,000, has a post time of approximately 4:52 p.m. EDT.
Two of his Iselin foes, Park Avenue Ball and Network, are familiar faces around Monmouth Park as they will each be making their ninth appearance "down the shore."
Master Command, a son of A.P. Indy
, got the attention of the racing public on the Preakness undercard earlier this year with a 2 ¾-length score in the William Donald Schaefer Handicap (gr. III) at Pimlico, defeating horses like Andromeda's Hero and Funny Cide. In his last start, he finished sixth in the Cornhusker Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Prairie Meadows in Iowa back in early July.
He has since filed a steady stream of works at Saratoga for trainer Todd Pletcher. Owned by Aaron and Marie Jones, Master Command was a $650,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale yearling. Bred by Betty Moran's Brushwood Stable, the colt is from the immediate family of blue hen mare Lady Winborne.
Park Avenue Ball skipped away to an easy five-length win in the Skip Away Stakes July 23 at Monmouth. Char-Mari Stable's homebred son of Citidancer
--Road to the Ball, by Cahill Road, was second to Flower Alley in the Salvator Mile Stakes (gr. III) over the track earlier in the meet. In all, Park Avenue Ball has won or placed in seven stakes during three summers at Monmouth Park.
Park Avenue Ball, trained by Jim Ryerson, will be ridden by regular rider Chris DeCarlo and break from post two.
Eddie Broome's Network (Pulpit
--Broadcast, by Broad Brush) was third behind Flower Alley and Park Avenue Ball in the Salvator Mile, but has since run on the turf in the Elkwood Stakes, finishing sixth. Last year, he won both the Lamplighter and Spend a Buck Stakes at Monmouth. The 4-year-old geldling, bred in Kentucky by Adele B. Dilschneider, has earned more than $300,000 in an 18-start career.
"He needs a hot and heavy pace in front of him," Broome said in a track release. "He needs the leaders to soften each other up to make his late run effective. I think Park Avenue Ball will be in front and we'll be way back early. I hope somebody goes out there with him, to give us a chance to run him down."
Another familiar face, Dennis Drazen's Zoffinger, makes his third attempt at the Iselin. Third behind Ghostzapper and Presidentialaffair two years ago, he ran second to West Virginia last year. Trained by Monmouth mainstay John Forbes, the 6-year-old Unbridled horse was bred in Kentucky by Carolyn T. Groves.
Two other stakes are on the Monmouth Park program: the $60,000 Miss Woodford Stakes at six furlongs for 3-year-old fillies; and the $55,000 Continental Mile Stakes for 2-year-olds on the turf.Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III), 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles, Monmouth Park, Saturday, Aug. 18, approx. post 4:52 p.m. EDT
PP - Horse - Jockey - Weight
1 - Master Command - Ramon Dominguez - 121
2 - Park Avenue Ball - Chris DeCarlo - 119
3 - Survivalist - Eddie Castro - 119
4 - Sinners N Saints - Alan Garcia - 117
5 - Tap Day - Jose Velez Jr. - 116
6 - Sinister G - Charles Lopez - 117
7 - Zoffinger - Eddie King Jr. - 117
8 - Network - Joe Bravo - 117