News & Barn notes

Mia’s Crusade Looking To Pick Up Where She Left Off In 2023 In Saturday’s Spruce Fir Handicap For Jersey-Breds

May 16, 2024

Mia’s Crusade will look to pick up where she left off seven months ago in Saturday’s featured $85,000 Spruce Fir Handicap for state-breds at Monmouth Park, and trainer Chuck Spina sees no reason that his ultra-consistent mare won’t do just that.

The 5-year-old daughter of Greenpointcrusader won a pair of Jersey-bred stakes races to close out her 2023 campaign, earning the honor of New Jersey Champion Older Mare.

She has been idle since Oct. 6, having won the Spruce Fir a year ago — one of her three state-bred stakes victories last season.

“I feel good about her because she runs really good fresh,” said Spina. “The past two seasons she won right off the farm and she’s showing me in the morning that she is ready to go again.

“She will be tough in this race.”

Seven fillies and mares, three and up, will challenge Mia’s Crusade, who sports a 5-2-2 line from 12 career starts at Monmouth Park. Overall she has six wins from 16 lifetime starts, with the bulk of her $350,781 in earnings coming from races at Monmouth Park.

“She has no breeding,” said Spina, who also campaigned 2016 and 2017 New Jersey Champion Older Mare Bustin Out. “She’s just a runner”

Surface doesn’t seem to bother her, either, with the Prancing Horse Farm runner having won sprinting on the turf, in the slop and over a fast track.

Though primarily a sprinter, Spina’s plan is to stretch her out again in the one-mile Smart N Classy Handicap for Jersey-breds on June 2. Two years ago she was second in that race, beaten a half-length. A year ago, she was third in the Smart N Classy, losing by one length.

“She can go a little longer,” said Spina. “She just got beat in the Smart N Classy the past two years. I’m going to run her back in that race after this one.”

Jomar Torres will be aboard, as he has been for Mia’s Crusade’s past 13 starts.

“She’s amazing. She always tries hard,” said Torres. “She is just so consistent. That’s what I like about her.”

For now, Spina intends to keep her on the racetrack, with no immediate plans to breed her.

“Knock on wood, if she stays healthy we’re going to keep running her,” he said. “She has a lot of these Jersey-bred fillies and mares over a barrel.

“Eventually I guess we’ll breed her. But she’s a runner. So we want her to keep running.”

Bred in New Jersey by Dianne Boyken, Mia’s Crusade has four wins, a second and a third from nine career six-furlong starts.

First race post time for Saturday’s 10-race card is 12:50. There is a Jersey Shore Pick 6 carryover of $37,241 entering the program.