News & Barn notes

Liam the Charmer Makes Grade 1 Debut Saturday’s United Nations

June 29, 2017

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Liam the Charmer makes his first trip outside of California in search of the first stakes win of his career when he takes on eight rivals in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 United Nations Stakes, going a mile and three-eights on the Monmouth turf.

            The 4-year-old colt by Smart Strike is coming out of the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita on May 28 where he made a late charge down the stretch after saving all the ground along the rail to finish fourth by three-quarters of a length behind multiple grade 2 winner Ashleyluvssugar.

            “He came out of the race very well,” said trainer Michael McCarthy. “We’ve had this race on our radar for a while and once he came out of the Whittingham good, we pointed him to it.”

            His only other start against graded stakes company this year was another fourth place finish in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey at Santa Anita behind fellow United Nations starter Itsinthepost.

            Liam the Charmer has gotten to the winner’s circle twice in 2017 versus allowance optional claiming foes at Santa Anita with his familiar late turn of foot. Victor Espinoza has been aboard for all four of his starts in 2017 and will make the trip to the Jersey Shore to get the call again on Saturday.

            Owned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr., the son of the Giant Causeway mare Charm the Giant has worked twice in preparation for the United Nations. He went five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 handily over a fast main track on June 24.

            “We’re hoping to have a similar trip like we did last time,” said McCarthy. “The pace scenario may be a little different than it was in the Whittingham, but we are going to try and save ground.”

            To grab his first stakes win on Saturday, Liam the Charmer will have to get by Grade 1 winner and morning line favorite Beach Patrol (5/2), trained by Chad Brown, who took last year’s Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park.

            H. Graham Motion brings a pair of graded stakes winners into the United Nations with Messi, who captured the Grade 2 Sky Classic at Woodbine last year, and Can’thelpbelieving, who won Grade 3 Cliff Hanger at Monmouth last season.

            The field for the 66th running of the United Nations is:

Beach Patrol- Florent Geroux (5/2) Itsinthepost- Tyler Baze (7/2) Bigger Picture- Joe Bravo (4/1) Closing Bell- Jose Lezcano (10/1) Messi- Orlando Bocachica (12/1) Liam the Charmer- Victor Espinoza (8/1) Can’thelpbelieving- Paco Lopez (8/1) Oscar Nominated- Kendrick Carmouche (5/1) Lucky Lindy- Nik Juarez (15/1)

The United Nations will run as the event on Saturday’s 11-race card. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. with first post at 12:50 p.m.