News & Barn notes

Rare $100,000 Optional Claimer Draws Stellar Field On Saturday’s 11-Race Card

September 09, 2022

The $100,000 Presious Passion Stakes at 1½ miles on the turf headlines Monmouth Park’s 11-race card on Saturday, but it’s the race after the feature – a rare $100,000 optional claimer – that offers the most intrigue with the field that’s assembled.

Of the eight horses entered for the pricey mile and a sixteenth optional claimer on the dirt, six have earned at least $270,000 lifetime. That list is topped by the Pat McBurney-trained Golden Brown, with the 7-year-old Jersey-bred having banked $792,320 in career earnings.

Not far behind is Phat Man, who comes into the day with $692,350 in earnings for trainer Kent Sweezey.

Antigravity, the morning line favorite at 5-2, has the rail and leading rider Paco Lopez. Placed third in last year’s Grade 1 Haskell Stakes through a disqualification, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained 4-year-old has banked $333,390 from just three career victories.

The others in the field are Thomas Shelby ($561,563 in lifetime earnings), No Salt ($273,401), King of Dreams ($184,096), Sagamore Mischief ($249,945) and Plot the Dots ($330,626).

The total combined earnings of the field is $3,417,700.

The $100,000 optional claimer also features two of the three trainers vying for leading trainer honors with four live racing cards remaining.

Claudio Gonzalez, who trainers Plot the Dots, currently tops the trainer standings with 28 winners in his quest for his first Monmouth Park training title. Kelly Breen, seeking a fourth Monmouth Park training title, is currently second with 27 winners, followed by Jerry Hollendorfer (the trainer of Antigravity) in third with 25.

The race for leading jockey is all but officially over, with Lopez’s 80 winners easily outdistancing runner-up Angel A. Rodridguez, who has 44.

The title will Lopez’s ninth at Monmouth Park, second only to Joe Bravo’s 13 titles.

Admission is free for the final four live cards – Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10 and 11, and Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18.

Parking remains free. First race post time for the final four live programs is 12:15 p.m.