Laughing no joke in Eatontown


Returning from an eight-month layoff proved no hindrance to Richard Santulli's five-year-old mare Laughing, who upset 2-5 favorite Dayatthespa in Saturday's Grade, $99,000 Eatontown Handicap at Monmouth Park.

Tracking in third as the favorite set a fast pace of :23, :46 2/5 and 1:09 1/5, Laughing moved up to engage a tiring Dayatthespa passing the eighth pole and edged clear to win by three-quarters of a length under Angel Serpa while stopping the clock in a swift 1:39 1/5 for 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf. Trained by Alan Goldberg, Laughing rewarded her backers with mutuels of $14.20, $3.80 and $2.60 as the 6-1 third choice.

"Mr. Goldberg told me that there was a lot of speed in the race so I just wanted to sit off," jockey Angel Serpa said. "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."

Dayatthespa, making her second start of the season, held second by three parts of a length over Ruthenia. Namaskara and Peggy Joyce completed the order of finish after the withdrawals of In the Rough, Naples Bay, Peace Preserver, 2012 Eatontown winner Silver Screamer, and the main-track-only entrant Ima Jersey Girl.

Laughing improved her Monmouth record to two-for-two with this score, having landed the 1 1/8-mile Matchmaker last July. It was her only stakes win of the season, though she placed in the Gallorette Handicap, Athenia, and Lady Baltimore.

The multiple Grade 3 winner was bred in Ireland by Floors Farming and the Duke of Devonshire. The daughter of Dansili was purchased by her original trainer, Charles O'Brien, for $460,411 as a Tattersalls October yearling. Laughing first sported the silks of Mrs. John Magnier, breaking her maiden in her third try as a three-year-old in Ireland and promptly following up in the Nijinsky Stakes at Leopardstown. She was subsequently acquired by Santulli.

Laughing's half-brother, Viva Pataca, reigned as Hong Kong's Horse of the Year and all-time leading money winner with more than HK$83 million in the bank. A two-time hero of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, he also won a trio of Champions & Chater Cups, a pair of Hong Kong Gold Cups and the Hong Kong Derby, among other titles. Viva Pataca's lengthy list of placings includes two more runnings of the QEII, as well as the Hong Kong Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic.

Their dam, the winning Be My Chief mare Comic, is herself a half-sister to multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Brave Act. Laughing's third dam, English co-champion juvenile filly Circus Ring, is the ancestress of Italian co-highweight Voila Ici and Australian champion filly Serenade Rose, heroine of such major events as the V.R.C. Oaks and A.J.C. Australian Oaks.