Pay close attention to the first races of the day on
Saturday and Sunday. This could be the start of something big.
racing, always eagerly awaited at Monmouth
Park, makes its return on
Saturday with six fillies entered in the maiden special weight event at four
and a half furlongs. On Sunday, the boys have their chance in the first race of
the day, also at four and a half furlongs.
summer meeting has provided an abundance of memories to savor over the past 67
years, but for many who follow the action in Oceanport, the highlight of any
season is the 2-year-old racing, where hope springs eternal and everybody’s a
champion going to the gate for the first time.
sprint for the baby boys drew a field of five, including the Eddie Plesa
Jr.-trained Yes I’m Lucky, who sold for $105,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sales in
March. Jane Cibelli, leading trainer at Monmouth the last two years, has
Pomeroy’s Package in there, and Kelly Breen is represented by Rachel’s Quest.
Clovis Crane ships in One Eyed Clyde from Penn National.
But the one
to watch is New Farm’s Holy Rocker, a son of Rockport Harbor
trained by Ben Perkins Jr. It’s always
been worth watching a Perkins-trained 2-year-old at Monmouth.
Jr. and father Ben Sr., the Perkins family has probably accounted for more than
50 juvenile winners at Monmouth through the decades. Holy Rocker is just the
latest in a long line.
“A lot of
good horses have broken their maiden at Monmouth,” Perkins said. “Most of our
good ones won here, including Storm
Tower and Wildcat Heir.
And the three fillies who won the Sorority (Stormy Pick, Forest Heiress and
Wild Snitch) all broke their maiden here.
so many 2-year-old races here,” Perkins said. “And always tough. We beat Skip
Away with Cold Snap (1995) in their first start. And the next year, we beat
Smoke Glacken with Confide.
know what kind of horses you’re going to hook. I remember a baby race here in
2005. We had Mid Town, a horse we liked a lot. Then I saw Henny Hughes walk
into the paddock and I knew we were in deep trouble.”
Hughes beat Mid Town by six that June 17 and went on to win Grade 1 sprints.
“One of the
baby races that really stands out in my mind,” Perkins said, “was in 2004. We
didn’t have anybody in the race, but this one horse looked like a rocketship.
It was Joey P. Right after the race, I asked (the late trainer) Frankie Costa
if he was for sale.”
record, Joey P. broke his maiden by six and a quarter lengths and stayed the
property of John Petrini. Perkins eventually became the trainer of Joey P.
that really good horses come out of Monmouth maiden races is well-documented.
Since the 1960s, eight champions and a host of major stakes winners have gotten
their start right here.
champions who came out of Monmouth maiden races were Tosmah (1963), Candy Éclair
(1978), Lord Avie (1980), Open Mind (1988), Dehere (1993), Holy Bull (1994),
Skip Away (a champion in 1996, 1997 and 1998), and Smoke Glacken (1996).
that Monmouth baby races are very tough, there are a couple of noteworthy
first-time losers besides Skip Away and Smoke Glacken. Dark Mirage, 3-year-old
champion (filly or colt) of 1968, lost her first start here, and Top Knight,
champion 2-year-old of 1968, lost his initial outing.