On paper, Sunday’s $75,000
Lady’s Secret Stakes, which goes as the third race on the card, looks to be a
piece of cake for Summer Applause, a multiple graded stakes winner trained by
But in horseracing, they make even “sure things” run
around the track, because in horseracing, stuff happens.
Which leads to Chuck Spina sending out Winiliscious, a
filly he claimed last year for $7,500 – a long, long way from graded stakes
“Of course it’s a tough race,” Spina said, “and Summer
Applause lays over the field. But you never know.”
Winning a race like this would be icing on the cupcake
for Spina and Winiliscious. Even if she does nothing Sunday, the filly would
still rank as one of the best claims ever for the trainer.
Spina claimed Winiliscious for $7,500 out of a winning
race at Monmouth on May 20 last year.
In her first start for the
new trainer, the daughter of Lawyer Ron won for a $28,000 claiming tag and then
after a rare loss on June 16, went on to win three starter-handicaps in a row.
She finished the year with seven wins in 11 starts.
This year, Winiliscious started with a third on turf at Atlantic City, and then
ran a big one to be second in the Monmouth Beach Stakes here. In her last two
starts, the filly was far back in the Lighthouse Stakes, and then was fourth in
the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher behind the runaway winner Joyful Victory.
“I really expected her to win the Monmouth Beach,”
Spina said. “Second race off a layoff, turf to dirt. It looked like the right
spot. And she ran well, but got beat.
“In the Lighthouse, she just bounced off that race and
didn’t run at all. In the Molly Pitcher, she was just a bad fourth, but nobody
was catching that winner.”
On Sunday, Winiliscious will be reunited with jockey
Navin Mangalee, who has been aboard in all five of the filly’s Monmouth wins.
Mangalee suffered a broken collarbone early this year, and then had several
setbacks in his recovery. He started riding again just two weeks ago.
Winiliscious has earned $209,670 in her career, and Spina
says that $150,000 of that has come since the claim, making her a bargain of
bargains. She’s owned by the Top Shelf Stable LLC, which consists of Spina and
nine other partners.
Another claim that Spina points to proudly is Who’s the
Cowboy. One of the most popular horses ever to race at Monmouth, the New
Jersey-bred was already 9 years old when Spina took him from Peter Walder for
$15,000 in 2011. Racing in allowance-optional claiming races and straight
claimers, the gritty sprinter won two races and had four seconds and two thirds
“He earned something like $110,000 for us,” Spina said.
“He was one tough customer.”
Who’s the Cowboy, who was bred by the Sleeter Family in
Clementon, N.J., raced twice this year for Skip Einhorn, and then at the end of
June was retired to live out his days at the Sleeter farm.
“He’s going to parade here on new Jersey Thoroughbred Festival Day (Sept.
21),” Spina said, “just like Joey P. did last year. Two of the best