Shore success, Mott Treats Belmont Gently, Big Week Ahead

The opening of Monmouth Park was the highlight of the weekend that has just hours to go.  Handle and attendance soared well past the opening day mark from the 2009 meet and a strong Sunday program rounded out a weekend that was undoubtedly a rousing success for the Shore’s greatest stretch.  Racing will resume on Saturday and continue Sunday and Monday (Memorial Day) before going to a regular Friday-Sunday schedule on June 4.

In the biggest stakes race of the weekend, Treat Gently rebounded from a couple of very dull recent efforts for Bill Mott and the Juddmonte Farms with a snazzy 4 1/2 length win over a decent field.  It appears as if her future will be in turf marathons and the fact that the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf is at 11 furlongs around three turns makes her a force in this division.

There’s only one weekend between now and the Belmont Stakes on June 5th and given the way the calendar is situated, we’re in for quite an appetizer next week with the main course a week later.  Memorial Day will offer a number of big races coast to coast but the weekend kicks off on Saturday with the Gamely (G1) at Hollywood and the Vagrancy (G2) the biggest races nationwide.  The Gamely will pit multiple graded stakes winner Tuscan Evening against 2008 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner  Forever Together.  A slew of other accomplished gals are set to participate, including General Consensus, Medaglia D’Amour, and Well Monied.

The Vagrancy will feature two Todd Pletcher trainees, Malibu Prayer, the 2009 Chilukki winner, and Hour Glass, who was most recently 2nd in the Distaff Handicap at the Big A.  The field should be competitive based on the long list of nominees for this G2 event.

A pair of NY bred stakes on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend at Belmont will yield good wagering opportunities as they often do and the Connaught Cup north of the border is the first stake race on the long road to the Woodbine Mile in September.

On Memorial Day itself, the standard centerpiece of the afternoon will be the Metropolitan Handicap.  Quality Road is raring and ready to go as he recently posted his sixth workout since coming back from an early season vacation.  Warrior’s Reward is probably the best horse slated to take on the barrel-shaped son of Elusive Quality as he exits a close 2nd place finish in the Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day.  Among those slated to go include the 1-2-3 finishers of the Westchester (Le Grand Cru, Convocation, Ironman Jon) and recent allowance winner Flat Bold.  The Sands Point is also on Monday’s card and Check the Label, a Graham Motion trainee who recently won the Appalachian will likely be favored.  The filly who finished 2nd to her in the Appalachian, Bay to Bay, came back to win the American 1000 Guineas at Arlington Park on Saturday afternoon.

Out west, the headliner on Memorial Day is the Shoemaker Mile (G1) and a deep and competitive field is gradually coming together.  Compari and Mr. Gruff, a couple of speedy recent graded stakes winners are set to go along with Karelian, who won the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland last time out.  Inglewood Handicap winner Gallant Son is also going to be in this group.

The Honeymoon (G2) is the final local prep at Hollywood for the American Oaks and the 1-2-3 finishers from the Senorita are expected to be in the field.  Cozi Rosie was victorious that day after enduring a tough trip in the Providencia at Santa Anita, which was won by City to City.   Andina, who was 2nd in the Providencia and the Senorita will be in the group as will In the Slips, who won the Blue Norther and finished 3rd as the favorite in the Providencia.

The Lone Star Park Handicap is the headliner on Lone Star Million Day down in Grand Prairie, TX.  Mythical Power, who has already won two of the three biggest races at Lone Star, the Texas Mile and Lone Star Derby, will be back for trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Martin Garcia.  There are six other stakes races on the Lone Star Million card, which usually offers tremendous value, so stop here if you’re searching for another signal on Memorial Day.

Until next week, I’ll leave you with the 2009 Metropolitan Handicap.  Don’t forget there’s a Pick 6 carryover of better than 40k Wednesday at Belmont!

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