Richard Santulli's Laughing dueled with 2-5 favorite and 120-pound highweight Dayatthespa and edged away late to win the $99,000 Eatontown Handicap (gr. IIIT) June 29 at Monmouth Park.
In the process, Laughing, with Angel Serpa up, set a turf course record for the portable rail placement, getting the 1 1/16 miles in 1:39.26 (VIDEO).
The old turf mark of 1:39.37 with the rail at 12 feet was set by Storm Mirage in June 2010. The actual Monmouth Park record for 1 1/16 miles on turf is 1:38.99, established Aug. 5, 2007 by Silent Roar.
Dayatthespa set all the pace in the Eatontown under Paco Lopez and ran through rapid splits of :23.11, :46.47 and 1:09.31 while being chased by Peggy Joyce and the 5-year-old Laughing. Dayatthespa still held a head advantage after a mile in 1:33.23. A final sixteen in a very solid :06.03 gave Laughing, charging three wide in the stretch, the advantage.
It was three-quarters of a length back to Ruthenia in third; she was followed by Namaskara and Peggy Joyce. Ima Jersey Girl (main track only), In the Rough, Naples Bay, Peace Preserver, and defending Eatontown winner Silver Screamer were scratched from the original field of older fillies and mares.
Laughing was making her 2013 debut in the Eatontown. She finished up 2012 with a third-place finish in the Athenia Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park and a neck defeat to Silver Screamer in the Lady Baltimore Stakes at Laurel Park Oct. 27.
"Everything was perfect, we had a great ride," said winning trainer Alan Goldberg. "It was a tough field, but she was did great coming off the layoff."
Under 116 pounds, Laughing paid $14.20, $3.80, and $2.60. Dayatthespa returned $2.20 and $2.10, and Ruthenia paid $2.20. The $2 exacta (6-3) paid $28.60.
The 5-year-old Irish-bred mare is by Dansili out of the Be My Chief mare Comic. She was bred by Floors Farming and the Duke of Devonshire. She is a half sister to 2009 Hong Kong horse of the year Comic Strip (by Marju).
"Mr. Goldberg told me that there was a lot of speed in the race so I just wanted to sit off," said Serpa. "I rode her last year so I was familiar with her. I placed her just behind the speed and when we turned for home she broke like the gates opened again. She's very good."
Laughing is perfect in two starts over the Monmouth Park turf layout having taken last year's Taylor Made Matchmaker Stakes (gr. IIIT) last summer. At 3 she won the Nijinsky Stakes at Leopardstown in Ireland.
A five-time winner in 12 starts, Laughing has earned $308,855.