News & Barn notes

2-Year-Olds Set To Take The Stage At Monmouth Park Saturday And Sunday

May 30, 2019

Simulcast Series Invitational

Monmouth Park’s first “baby” races of the year take place this weekend, with 2-year-old fillies heading to the track on Saturday and then 2-year-old colts and geldings going on Sunday, and for trainer Anthony Margotta it’s one of his favorite times on the racing calendar.

“It’s what we look forward to – at least I do,” said Margotta. “These are the up-and-coming stars of the future. It’s like any sport when you have young talent coming in. It’s a very exciting time.”

Margotta won’t waste any time unveiling one of his promising youngsters, with Hopeful Growth set for the 4½-furlong Maiden Special Weight event for 2-year-old fillies that will go as the second race on Saturday’s 12-race card.

That race will also feature the Todd Pletcher-trained Sweet Melania, Queen of Shades from the Jason Servis barn and Good Shabbos, who is shipping in from New York for trainer Jeremiah Englehart.

Pletcher’s horse is the only one with experience, with the daughter of  2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah finishing third in her debut at Belmont Park on May 2.

Margotta’s filly, a $160,000 yearling purchase, is owned by St. Elias Stable, the racing and breeding arm of NHL Florida Panthers’ owner Vincent Viola and his wife Teresa. St. Elias Stable also bred Pletcher’s filly, a $600,000 yearling purchase.

“I already know Todd has an outstanding filly in there,” said Margotta. “In my opinion, she’s the filly to beat. She has the advantage of experience too, which is huge at this stage of a young horse’s career.

“Our expectations for Hopeful Growth is we’re cautiously optimistic that she will run well.”

Simply getting a 2-year-old to this point can be a challenge for trainers.

“It’s a lot of work getting 2-year-olds ready to run,” said Servis. “You’ve got to get them to the gate, they’re all over the place, and they generally seem to have some kind of setback, whether it’s a cough or sickness or something physical.

“My filly hasn’t worked particularly fast but she hasn’t had any setbacks. She’s one of the ones that made it to the point where she is ready to run.”

Saturday’s feature race is the $75,000 Tale of the Cat Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass. Sunday’s feature race is the first running of the Lookin at Lucky Stakes for 3-year-olds at six furlongs.

First race post time both days is 12:50 p.m.