Omnibus Saturday Brings Out The Stakes Seekers

Friday, August 23, 2013

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Saturday’s feature at Monmouth is the $60,000 Omnibus Stakes for fillies and mares. It’s an 11-furlong marathon on the grass, and the objective is very clear for all eight runners – earn “black type.”

            The broodmares who command the most attention in sales catalogs have all won or placed in stakes. Their accomplishments are noted by the use of bold-face type for wins or placing in stakes races, and that it’s that ‘black type’ that enhances their value.

            Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out the only filly in the race who has won at the distance in Gary L. Chervenell’s Seanchai. The 4-year-old chestnut miss won an optional claiming event at Gulfstream Park in January, her last victory.

            She also has a license to run well at Monmouth, since her sire is English Channel, who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf here in 2007 and was named champion turf horse.

            Last out, on July 4, Seanchai finished fourth in an optional claimer at one mile on grass at Monmouth, but that was her first start in four months and she raced like a horse who needed the outing.

            “She’s been training okay on the dirt,” said Anthony Sciametta, who trains the Pletcher horses at Monmouth. “She’s been very steady, but doesn’t really show her best breezing on the main track.”

            Seanchai has 12 lifetime starts, all on grass. She finished second in the Hilltop at Pimlico and an overnight stakes at Delaware last year, and this year was fourth in the Grade 3 The Very One in February and sixth in the Grade 3 Orchid in March, both at Gulfstream. Now she needs a black type win.

            “That’s why she’s in here,” Sciametta said, “to give her a chance to win a stakes.”

            The filly’s best races have come on or near the pace, and Sciametta says Seanchai will likely be prominent early in the Omnibus.

            “The farther she goes, the closer to the pace she’ll be,” he said.

            In her Gulfstream victory, the filly made all the running and was still going strong at the end to win by three and a half lengths.

            Chris DeCarlo, who rode for the first time last out, has the mount again on Saturday.

            All of the runners in the Omnibus will be looking for that elusive first stakes victory. Vicki Oliver, once a Monmouth regular who now stables in Kentucky, shipped up Rare Event for a try at black type.

            Graham Motion is sending an English-bred filly, Valiant Girl, to take a shot, and Christophe Clement also has an English-bred runner in Tabreed, who owns a victory on the Monmouth turf and demands respect with Joe Bravo aboard.

            Parranda is another course winner – she won the race when Seanchai was fourth – and Explainable is back on grass after running third in an off-the-turf stakes at Delaware last out.

            The field is completed by a pair of fillies shipping in from Pennsylvania. Thicket would benefit if the race comes off the turf, since she’s a dedicated main track runner at Penn National. Christmas Angel, whose only lifetime win came on grass, ships in from Parx after a third on the synthetic track at Presque Isle.