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Maple Forest Looks For Back-to-Back Monmouth Stakes Wins

Posted Saturday, Jun 30, 2012

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On Sunday, Bret Calhoun will send out Carousel Stakes winner Beat the Blues in the $60,000 Blue Sparkler Stakes, but she won’t be a shoo-in with Maple Forest trying for back-to-back stakes wins on this track.

            On May 28, Maple Forest came off a three-month layoff and made every pole a winning one while taking the $60,000 Red Cross Stakes in impressive fashion. The Todd Pletcher-trainee loves Monmouth, winning two of her four starts here, including last year’s $75,000 Dearly Precious Stakes. Moreover, in nine trips at the six furlong distance of the Blue Sparkler, the 4-year-old filly has never been out of the money, with three firsts, five seconds and one third. 

            “She likes the track,” said assistant trainer Anthony Sciametta. “There’s an exercise rider (Humberto Zamora) who galloped her all last year. Some people say it helps when you keep riders and horses together. I think it shows, if you look at her record here.” 

            Zamora and Maple Forest are a good fit in the mornings and Joe Bravo and the filly make a perfect match in the afternoons. Bravo has ridden her in every one of her three prior starts here and he gets the call again. 

            “He gets along with her and they’ve got their thing going on,” said Sciametta. “If she runs her race, she’ll be tough to beat.” 

            Pletcher has also entered Midnight Visit, the winner of the 2011 Love is Eternal for New York-bred fillies, in the Blue Sparkler and as of Saturday morning, she was on schedule to arrive from his New York base. 

            While Maple Forest is the 9-5 morning line favorite, Beat the Blues has been installed as the 2-1 second choice in the field of six fillies and mares.The 5-year-old mare and Maple Forest will share co-highweight of 123 pounds and regular rider Miguel Mena will be in the irons. 

            “She’s been training here for several weeks and everything has gone well with her,” said Calhoun. “In her last race (a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill on June 2), I ran three and was second, third and fourth. This is a good spot for her and maybe this will be her best race.” 

            Beat the Blues, a multiple stakes winner, is a well-seasoned mare who has won nine of 19 starts and earned close to $400,000.  

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