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Jul 11, 2008

Presious Passion and Notional garner Breeders' Cup spots



Oceanport, NJ (Sports Network) - Presious Passion and Notional both picked up spots in this year's Breeders' Cup races with a pair of stakes victories at Monmouth Park on Saturday. The two races, United Nations Handicap and Salvator Mile, are part the of "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup challenge races that guarantee the winners automatic entry into the 2008 World Championships.

Sent off as a 13-1 outsider, Presious Passion took the lead right from the start in the $750,000 United Nations Handicap on the grass. The five-year-old gelding was allowed set the pace in the 1 3/8 mile contest as his seven rivals never challenged.

It wasn't until the homestretch that Presious Passion felt pressure. Making a late run was Strike a Deal. Jose Lezcano and Strike a Deal rallied down the stretch to get within a neck of Presious Passion at the wire.

Finishing third was Equitable with Independent George gaining fourth followed by Buddy's Humor, even-money favorite Champs Elysees, Ra Der Dean and Crown Point. Sudan was scratched from the race.

The time for the 55th United Nations was 2:13.88 on a yielding turf course.

Owned by Patricia Generazio, Presious Passion locks up a spot in the Breeders' Cup Turf in October at Santa Anita. Trained by Mary Hartmann, the gelding adds $450,000 to the bankroll. Presious Passion has won eight of 29 lifetime starts for $935,028.

His only other victory this year was the Pan American Handicap at Gulfstream Park. The five-year-old was coming off a second-place finish in the Battlefield Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Presious Passion returned $29.60, $8.80 and $5.40. Strike a Deal paid $4.00 and $3.00, and Equitable paid $4.20 to show.

Notional, who at one point last year was a Triple Crown contender, came from off the pace to take the $300,000 Salvator Mile. The four-year-old, ridden by Joe Bravo, secured a position in this year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.

Setting the pace in the Salvator was returning winner Gottcha Gold. The 4-5 favorite took the field up the backstretch with Rathor and Better Than Bonds vying for second and Honest Man running in fourth.

Entering the far turn Gottcha Gold and jockey Eddie Castro continued on the lead as Notional began to advance on the outside. Coming out of the final turn Notional drew even with Gottcha Gold and took the lead at the top of the stretch.

Notional went on to post a 2 1/4 length win over Gottcha Gold followed by Honest Man, Indy Wind, Better Than Bonds and Rathor.

The time for the one-mile distance was 1:35.84 on a fast track.

Notional is trained by Mark Hennig for owner Paul Reddam. Saturday's win was worth $180,000 to bring the colt's career earnings to $695,740. He has now won four of 11 lifetime starts.

Last year Notional won the San Rafael and Risen Star Stakes. His last race as a three-year-old was the Florida Derby when he was second to Scat Daddy. A broken leg ended his 2007 season.

Notional paid $17.80, $5.40 and $2.80. Gottcha Gold returned $2.60 and $2.10, and Honest Man paid $2.60 to show.

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