OCEANPORT, N.J. -- The Grade 3, $150,000 Jersey Shore Stakes lured a well-balanced field of 3-year-old sprinters from around the country to Monmouth Park for the July 4 holiday card.
The six-furlong Jersey Shore tops a 10-race program and kicks off a major stakes week at Monmouth that culminates Saturday with the Gradeo1, $750,000 United Nations Stakes on the turf.
The field of seven for the Jersey Shore includes two horses from California, Principle Secret and Idiot Proof. Two come from Kentucky: Sir Five Star and Spin Master. For local flavor, the first three finishers from Monmouth's Rumson Stakes on June 10 all return - Cherokee Country, West Coast Flier, and Southwestern Heat.
All can run fast. Every horse in the field has posted a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 or better within the last two races.
Handicappers will note that Sir Five Star, the stablemate of Teuflesberg in the Jamie Sanders barn, faced older runners in his most recent outing.
Both colts ran on the Belmont Stakes undercard, with Teuflesberg capturing the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds.
Sir Five Star also was nominated to the Stephens, but Sanders didn't want to run the horses against each other. That decision sent Sir Five Star against older sprinters in the Grade 2 True North Handicap. Despite a very wide trip, Sir Five Star launched a mild late rally to finish fifth, beaten only 3 1/4 lengths while earning a career-best 94 Beyer.
"He is a very talented colt who beat some nice older horses despite getting parked really wide," Sanders said. "I think he's going to throw the best race of his life, I really do."
This will be Sir Five Star's second race for Sanders after making his first 15 starts for Steve Asmussen.
Owner H. Gus King, a fan of the job Sanders did with Teuflesberg, sent her several horses, including Sir Five Star. This will be Sanders's first trip back to Monmouth since she rode here in the early 1990s.
With Monmouth hosting the Breeders' Cup in October, trainer Christopher Paasch saw an ideal spot to let Principle Secret test the surface.
The colt was beaten in the final jump last time out in the Grade 3
Laz Barrera Memorial at seven furlongs on May 20 at Hollywood Park.
"In the last race, the horse in front was getting out pretty bad so Alex [Solis] pushed him through on the rail," Paasch said. "He basically got him into a drive from the half-mile pole all the way home. The horse hung in real game and just got nailed on the wire."
Principle Secret earned a career-best Beyer of 100 in that neck loss.
Joe Bravo, Monmouth's leading rider, picks up the mount.
David Flores will come in from California to ride Idiot Proof, who is 3 for 5 and trained by Clifford Sise Jr.
The colt rolled to a 2 1/4-length win most recently in a first-level allowance race at Hollywood Park and made a smooth transition to Monmouth. He turned in a bullet work here on June 29, zipping four furlongs in 47 seconds.
"The horse is doing good," Sise said. "He's a very fast horse. Going three-quarters, we're hoping he's very tough."
Spin Master owns the best career Beyer in the field - 103 - logged in his victory in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 19.
Hey Chub, 'Cowboy' rematchbr>Sprinters, New Jersey-bred style, are featured in the supporting stakes, the $60,000 Colts Neck Handicap.
The race features a rematch of the John J. Reilly Handicap on May 26 when Hey Chub beat Who's the Cowboy by a neck to cap a battle waged right from the break.
United Nations field shapes up
The United Nations looks like it will have a small field. Monmouth stakes coordinator Mike Melendez had commitments from only four runners: Better Talk Now, Embossed, and the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of English Channel and the mare Honey Ryder.
Better Talk Now won the United Nations in 2005, followed by English Channel last year. Most recently, they clashed in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont with Better Talk Now getting up to win by a head.