Big Brown heads nomination list for Monmouth Stakes

Kentucky Derby and Haskell Invitationalw inner Big Brown tops a list of 35 nominations for the Monmouth Stakes, a mile-and-an-eighth turf test to be contested at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

Trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., Big Brown will be making just his second career start on turf in the Monmouth Stakes, having broken his maiden on the grass at Saratoga in his debut on Sept. 3, 2007. Following that maiden score, a majority interest in the colt by Boundary from the Nureyev mare Mien was purchased by IEAH Stables. Big Brown races for IEAH Stables, Paul Pompa Jr., Gary Tolchin, Andrew Cohen and Pegasus Holdings Group.

Big Brown made his second start on March 5, scoring in an off-the-turf entrylevel allowance contest at Gulfstream Park. He followed that up with a fivelength win in the Florida Derby and then his victory in the Kentucky Derby. After taking the Preakness, Big Brown’s bid for the Triple Crown fell short when he was eased nearing the quarter pole in the Belmont Stakes. He bounced back from that effort with a nearly two-length score in the Haskell, Monmouth Park’s signature race, on Aug. 3.

Stabled at Aqueduct, Big Brown sports a trio of workouts since his Haskell score, most recently breezing six furlongs on firm turf on Sept. 3 in 1:15 3/5.

As part of the condition of the race for the Monmouth Stakes, the $200,000 purse will increase to $500,000 should the 2008 Kentucky Derby winner (Big Brown) start in the event.

The nominations, excluding late mail, for the Monmouth Stakes are: Ballonenostrikes, Barcola, Big Brown, Call My Bluff, Distorted Reality, Dr. Rico, Drum Major, Fagedaboudit Sal, Get Serious, Hotstufanthensome, Hunting Print, Icy Atlantic, Independent George, Kiss the Kid, Little Dovefeather, Minister’s Joy, Nergal, Nightscape, Operation Red Dawn, Out of Control, Pleasant Strike, Proudinsky, RJ’s Brigade, Red Rocks, Ruff and Ready, Salinja, Saratoga Saint, Shake the Bank, Shakis, Silver Tree, Star Plus, Victory Alleged, War Monger, Wesley, and Xela.

New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap added to Saturday’s card

A third stakes has been added to Saturday’s racing program, which will be headlined by the inaugural running of the $500,000 Monmouth Stakes, featuring Big Brown.

The $60,000 New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap, a mile-and-a-sixteenth event for state-breds, joins the Monmouth Stakes, a mile-and-an-eighth turf test, and the $60,000 Trenton Stakes, a grass sprint for 3-year-old fillies, as highlights of the card.

The N.J. Breeders’ Handicap is expected to bring back several of the horses who contested the Charles Hesse III Handicap in August. They include the first three finishers in that event — Cuba, Bythebeautifulsea, and Trueamericanspirit. Others considered as possibilities are Luna, winner of the Bernie Dowd Handicap, and Meadow Blue, second in that event.

The Trenton Stakes, which will be presented at five and a half furlongs on the grass, should lure a full field of 3-year-old fillies, including some who contested the Crank It Up Stakes here on Aug. 2.

Hurdle racing returns to Monmouth on Sept. 20

For the first time in four seasons,Monmouth will present a stakes race for jumpers here on Saturday, Sept. 20.

The $75,000 Monmouth County Hunt Novice Hurdle Stakes (G2) at two and a quarter miles is for 4-year-olds and up who were non-winners over National fences before June 1, 2007. The race serves as the main prep for the Grade 1 Foxbrook Novice Hurdle Stakes at Far Hills on Oct. 18.

The stakes race was once a feature of the Monmouth County Hunt meeting held near Monmouth Park on the former estate of Amory L. Haskell.

The Saturday card also features the New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival races — three stakes events for New Jerseybreds. The state-bred events are the $60,000 Eleven North Handicap at six furlongs for fillies and mares; the $60,000 Lincroft Handicap at six furlongs for 3- year-olds and up, and the $60,000 Jersey Girl Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth.

The chase event will only add to the excitement of that Saturday, which features a New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival Tshirt giveaway, and the annual Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off.