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Mei Ling Shines Brightest In Lighthouse Stakes; Red-Hot Journeyman Nik Juarez Wins Another

Monday, September 7, 2015

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Barry K. Schwartz’s Mei Ling sat just off the pace of Checkupfromzneckup before putting away that rival inside the eighth pole and posting a nearly length score in the $75,000 Lighthouse Stakes at Monmouth Park on Monday.

            Trained by Todd Pletcher, Mei Ling covered the mile and a sixteenth over a fast main track in 1:45 2/5 and paid $7.80, $3.20 and $2.40 as the third-choice in the field of five fillies and mares.  Checkupfromzneckup, the 3-2 favorite, completed the $22 exacta and paid $2.80 and $2.40.  It was another neck back to Blue Violet, who paid $2.60 to show.

            “Todd’s (trainer Pletcher) instructions were to let someone else go to the lead and sit close,” said winning jockey Nik Juarez.  “He said when it was time to go, to just grind the leader down.  I couldn’t imagine my first few weeks as a journeyman going any better.”

            Juarez, a 22 year-old native of Westminster, Maryland, lost his apprentice allowance on Aug. 26, before going on to capture the Grade 3 Iselin Stakes aboard Valid last weekend and the Sapling Stakes atop Sunny Ridge on Sunday’s Monmouth program.

            Mei Ling, a 4-year-old filly by Empire Maker from the Seeking the Gold mare Lochinvar’s Gold, has won 3 of her 13 starts, with earnings of $225,883.

            Live racing continues at Monmouth Park on Saturday, Sept. 12 – New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival Day, featuring the best runners born in the Garden State.  Gates open on Saturday at 11:30 a.m., first post 12:50 p.m.  As always, the racetrack is open seven days a week for simulcasting from the across the country and around the globe.