Trainer Tim Kelly will have a pair of contending juveniles running in the $150,000 Sapling Stakes (gr. III) over six furlongs at Monmouth Park Sept. 2, the final graded event of the New Jersey track's summer season.
The presence of the talented 2-year-olds helps explain why the conditioner has a big smile on his face these days.
Haddenfield broke his maiden at Monmouth at first asking in June, then ran second as the favorite in a six-furlong stakes at Delaware last time out on Aug. 18. In between the gelding was beaten by a neck while finishing second in a first-level allowance race at Delaware.
Evenings End ran off to an eight-length score in his second career start at Monmouth July 20.
"They make a good entry," Kelly said of the two youngsters, both bred in partnership and owned by Daniel J. Ljoka. "Evenings End has plenty of speed, and Haddenfield comes from off the pace."
Haddenfield is the most experienced of the pair, including his stakes effort. He had trouble while starting from the rail that day, but recovered to make a big stretch move, losing by just 1 1/4 lengths.
"It's a concern bringing him back so quick," Kelly said of the two-week turnaround, "but he recovered quickly from that race, and he's acting well. I'll make a final decision the day of the race about him."
Evenings End, a dark bay Evening Kris colt, has not started since he broke his maiden in dazzling style July 20. He comes into the Sapling off a string of local works.
His most recent was a :37 3/5 breeze at Monmouth Aug. 30, his final sharpener for the Sapling. His most significant drill, though, was the :47 2/5 half-mile he turned in out of the gate Aug. 15.
"I worked him with a 4-year-old, a winner, and he had his jockey up (Daniel Centeno, since injured)," Kelly said of the earlier drill. "He was sensational that day and really got a lot out of it."
Evenings End, who will be ridden by Chuck Lopez, turned in the fastest of 32 works at the distance that morning.
Both youngsters were bred by Ljoka in partnership with Sharon Biamonte. But Evenings End is a New Jersey-bred, while Haddenfield is a Florida-bred.
"I'm smiling because they're like family," Kelly said. "We raise them, we break them and we race them, and they become like your kids. And when your kids do well, you're happy. They're doing well, and I'm happy."
They'll be facing six others looking to move forward in the Sapling.
The Steve Asmussen-trained Posse colt Lantana Mob is the only one coming into the Sapling off a stakes win. The Vinery Stables runner captured the 5 1/2-furlong Tyro as the 6-5 favorite at Monmouth July 28. He shows two victories in four starts.
Preachin Man, a Songandaprayer colt trained by Ronny Warner, is also two-for-four lifetime and owns a stakes victory at Louisiana Downs. In his last start, the Florida-bred ran second in the Mountaineer Juvenile in West Virginia Aug. 4.
The colts Dazzling Derek, Ginas Wonder, Tide Dancer and Z Humor are all coming off daylight maiden scores most recently.
Also on the Monmouth card is the $120,000 Sorority Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs. It goes as the seventh race.
$150,000 Sapling Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 4:54 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, 6 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Ginas Wonder (FL), Carlos M. Cruz
2. Dazzling Derek (NY), Christopher P. DeCarlo
3. Z Humor (KY), Joe Bravo
4. Evenings End (NJ), Charles C. Lopez
5. Tide Dancer (MD), Abel Castellano, Jr.
6. Lantana Mob (KY), Stewart Elliott
7. Preachin Man (FL), Eddie Castro
8. Haddenfield (FL), Rajiv Maragh
Each assigned 121 pounds.