News & Barn notes

St Anthony Scores By 2 1/4 Lengths In Red Bank Stakes; Great Navigator Romps By 10 In Charles Hesse III Handicap

September 04, 2023

With limited opportunities for a horse of St Anthony’s ilk in California, Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale decided to send the 4-year-old gelding East to campaign this year.

A stakes win is the latest byproduct of that decision.

St Anthony split horses coming out of the final turn and powered his way to a 2¼-length victory in Monday’s $102,000 Red Bank Stakes at Monmouth Park, the horse’s second straight win at the Jersey Shore track.

In the supporting feature earlier on the card, Great Navigator turned in a dazzling performance while coasting to a 10-length victory in the $127,000 Charles Hesse III Handicap for Jersey-breds.

St Anthony’s winning time for the mile over a firm turf course was 1:34.58.

“When we started him off this year he was a little fresh his first start and then he hit soft ground in his next start,” said Drysdale. “Everything has gone well since he came to Monmouth Park. For a horse like him there are more opportunities in the East. That’s why we decided to ship him here. You have several racetracks that are options from Monmouth and New York.

“In California if you’re not good enough there aren’t a lot of opportunities. This (being East) gave us a lot more options with him.”

Ridden by Paco Lopez, St Anthony had an ideal set-up in the seven-horse field of 3-year-olds and up, sitting behind the early speed duel between Megacity and Principled Stand. Lopez deftly managed to steer his horse to the rail while tracking the frontrunners through early fractions of :23.07 and :45.98 to the half.

Coming out of the final turn, Lopez had to split horses, with Megacity inside and There Are No Words on the outside of him.

Owned and bred in Kentucky by Alice Bamford, St Anthony returned $5.80 to win as the favorite.

“It sure helps when you have the best horse and you get a perfect trip,” said Lopez, who has all but officially wrapped up his ninth Monmouth Park riding title in the past 11 years with one weekend of live racing remaining. “I really like this horse. I liked him off his last win and I told my agent (Cory Moran) that I wanted to ride him back.

“I knew there was speed in this race so I wanted to be close to it. I was able to get to the rail early (from post seven) and I was able to track the speed until I needed to go. It got a little tight there for a while and I had to split horses coming out of the turn but we had room and he was really wanting to run at that point.”

St Anthony started this year with two races at Belmont Park before winning an optional claimer at Monmouth Park on July 28. He is now 5-for-17 lifetime and 2-for-2 at Monmouth Park.

“He’s certainly done well his past two races at Monmouth Park,” said Drysdale. “I think Paco gets along with him really well. He gave him a picture perfect ride. That plays a good part in it.”

Wicked Finn rallied from far back to get second, edging out There Are No Words by a neck.

Great Navigator, meanwhile, easily handled the longest stretch out of his eight-race career for jockey Jairo Rendon in the mile and a sixteenth Hesse Handicap, doing so as the only 3-year-old in the seven-horse field. The winning time was 1:44.25

“He’s just such a consistent horse,” said winning trainer Eddie Owens. “He’s been consistent since day one. He’s just a very nice horse. Nice horses overcoming everything so I wasn’t worried about this being the longest race of his career. I know how talented he is.”

Great Navigator, a son of Sea Wizard, has never missed the board in eight lifetime starts. The Hesse marked his second time trying two turns. He paid $7.80 to win.

Lemon Creek Louie was second, four lengths ahead of Irish Boolum.

The Monmouth Park meet ends next weekend, with live racing on Saturday and Sunday. Admission and parking are free both days.