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Jul 08, 2011




Here's a heads-up for the racing media and the Monmouth Park racing office:

The same connections who won the 2010 running of the Haskell are looking to win this year's edition on July 31 at Monmouth with a colt named Coil.

It all depends on what happens this Saturday at Hollywood Park. Fresh from a victory over the track a month back in the Affirmed Handicap, named for the last Triple Crown winner (1978), Coil will be one of the favorites in a field of six in the $150,000 Swaps Stakes, the signature race for 3-year-olds at the Hollywood meet.

According to my west coast sources, if Coli should win the Swaps - or presumably come close -- trainer Baffert will run him right back -- for Lookin at Lucky's owners no less -- in the Haskell in three weeks.

We're not saying Coil is a mortal lock for the Swaps, but just knowing that his people are willing to go to the expense of shipping him 6,000 miles round-trip has to make them like this guy very much.

The oppositioin to Coil in the Swaps is headed by Runflatout, the Affirmed runner-up. Runflatout is no relation to Flat Out, who we tipped for the Suburban in this venue a week back. Flat Out romped in the Suburban as the 13-1 rank outsider. 

The Swaps field is completed by Boxeur des Rues, Dreamy Kid, Spud Spivens and Uncle Sam.

Needless to say, a Coil victory -- and he's the pick here -- would send him into the Haskell no worse than second choice to Shackleford.

Monmouth meantime is hosting its own major Haskell prep on Saturday -- the Long Branch Stakes, which, at $175,000, is worth a "quarter" more than the Swaps.

Kelly Breen, who shocked the world by winning the Belmont Stakes with Ruler on Ice, and added for good measure the Pegasus with Pants On Fire, sends out two more barrels in the Long Branch -- the uncoupled entry of Nacho Saint and Galaxy Kat.

Jose Valdivia, who was aboard the Belmont winner, will ride Nacho Saint, and old friend Stew Elliot will be in from Philly to ride Galaxy Jet, fresh from a victory in an entry-allowance at the Parx, and conceivably the one to catch over the speed-favoring Monmouth strip.

Picking against Breen in 3-year-old stakes races is not an especially wise move these days, but I'm going to try to beat the Breens with Rush Now, an impressive winner of the Spend A Buck Stakes over the track.

The rider (Bravo) doesn't hurt...nor does the post (two).

Completing the 10-horse field for the Long Branch, which will be run as  race 11 on the 12-race program, will be completed by Wilburn, Rattlesnake Bridge.  Moonhanger, Little Drama (a full brother to Eclipse sprinter Big Drama); Wills Wildcat, Jack London, and All of the Above.

Rush Hour and All of the Above will race as an entry for trainer Tony Dutrow.

I'll be very surprised if the Haskell winner comes out of the Long Branch.

Speaking of the 3-year-olds, possibly the most significant development (I said possibly) to come from the 3-year-olds this week was the news that Uncle Mo is coming out of hiding, and will re-join the Todd Pletcher barn in New York, presumably for a Fall campaign.

How hot is Pletcher?

Check this out...

The Toddster entered Her Smile for celebrity chef Bobby Flay in the Prioress, the Grade 1 feature for 3-year-old fillies on the July 4 card at Belmont.

"I thought the filly was in too deep," says Jerry Brown, who manages the day-to-day operations for Pletcher, "...and I tried to reach Todd and advise he scratch her. But I couldn't reach him, and so she ran"

And did she ever, closing from last under a rail-skimming ride by  Castellano to get the money at 13-1.

And, oh yes, the Toddster also won a stake last weekend at Monmouth with Roaring Lion for main man Repole -- a week after winning the Mother Goose with Buster's Ready, and two weeks after winning the Ogden Phipps with Awesome Maria.

Pletcher did hit one bump in the road. With $270,000 of the $300,000 show pool on her, Hilda's Passion managed to run seventh of eight at Belmont, costing  considerable blood-letting among the faithful, and producing $50-plus show prices.

But why should Todd worry?

Speaking of Belmont, they will run the $600,000 Man o' War Stakes on Saturday on the grass, making it the richest event of the racing weekend, grass or dirt.

Gio Ponti, a multi-graded stakes-winner, will try to become the first horse in New York history to win the same Grade One grass stake three straight years. With Anticipation, Majesty's Prince and Solar Splendor won the Man o' War two straight times.

Gio Ponti will be favored under jockey Dominguez in the field of seven, mostly because of the weights.

When Gio Ponti finished third to the wire-to-wire Mission Approved in the Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Stakes day, GP was spotting five pounds to the winner, a one-time $35,000 claimer.

Gio Ponti gets an eight-pound swing for the Man o' War. Mission Approved, with jockey Espinosa up. is the 123-pound highweight, while GP gets in at 120.

The Aidan O'Brien trained Capo Bianco, a multiple stakes-winner in  Europe, makes his stateside debut under J P Spencer in the Man o' War. The Galileo colt narrowly beat Gio Ponti when also-rans in the Dubai World Cup, but GP will have a significant home-field edge in Saturday's headliner.

But will and can Mission Approved steal another one? He sure can if these world-class jocks allow him an easy lead.

The lineup is completed by Bearpath, Boisterous, Al Khali and Nownownow.

My pick (reluctantly) is Gio Ponti.

The monetary feature on the Hollywood card is the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup, and the one to catch and beat from the one-hole is Twirling Candy.

Fresh from an incredibly-troubled victory in the Californian, Twirling Candy should take no end of catching over a Hollywood strip that has really favored speed this year.

The 8-year-old Awesome Gem, who scored his greatest career victory in this race last year, was entered at the 11th hour for Saturday...and the West Point folks will he hoping lightning strikes again.

The Dudes (First Dude and Game On Dude) should factor in the race, as should Setsuko, who is overdue to win a big one.

Miss Match, a late-running mare; Dark Cove and Soul Candy complete the eight-horse field.

I look for Twirling Candy to go wire to wire, with Setsuko and/or  Miss Match closing for a piece.

Did you notice that Calvin Borel, who had been very quiet for a good year, erupted with a five-bagger last Saturday at Churchill Downs?

The fifth of those winners was Exfactor in the $100,000 Bashford Manor for Bernie Flint, and Borel is telling people that Exfactor already is his Derby horse for 2012. Calvin has won three of the last five Derbys so his confidence in this colt can not be overstated.

Finally, I had to tell trainer Greg Sacco, who upset the Choice Stakes on Monday at Monmouth with Freud's Honor, that his victory came on the 50th anniversary of Kelso's first stakes victory...yes, in the Choice.

So next time some one asks you what do Kelso and Freud's Honor have in common, you have your answer.

And, also on Monday, a filly named Allumeuse finished second in a maiden race at Belmont.

By itself, this was not major news, but this is the 25-year anniversary of the biggest screwup in New York racing history when the original Allumeuse  was unjustly DQd in a race at Saratoga, costing the three wise men their jobs.

Obviously Eric N. Kronfield has a sense of humor. He owned/owns both Allemeuses.

I just wonder how The Jockey Club, which permitted Kingpost to get through, also allowed Allumeuse.

Thanks for checking in. Don't forget to eyeball the JP Hot Line on this busy racing weekend, and we'll see you here next week.

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