Las Vegas, NV - Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey will be the scene of some important stakes action this Sunday, July 28. On the Haskell Invitational undercard is the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup - a 1 1/16 mile race on Monmouth's dirt track for horses three years old and upward that carries a purse of $200,000.
A field of seven has been confirmed for the Monmouth Cup - race 9 on Monmouth Park's busy Sunday schedule. Post time is 3:59 PM. Let's take a look into the credentials of all seven combatants for this Grade 2 stakes.
Take Charge Indy - won the Grade 1 Florida Derby in March 2012 and then was nineteenth in the Kentucky Derby before a 5 1/2 month layoff. He then placed in his next five starts culminating in a nice win May 3 in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs. Other results this year include a good second in the Grade 3 Skip Away Stakes at Gulfstream in March and a third in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap to start his year. Last time out however was a poor sixth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs June 15. Take Charge Indy has three wins, four seconds and two third place finishes in 13 career starts. He starts the Monmouth Cup instead of the $750,000 Whitney but should have a better chance of success this weekend as the highweight and the likely favorite. He will have legendary Gary Stevens in the saddle.
Hymn Book - Shug McGaughey pupil won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap in impressive fashion in February 2012 but struggled a tad after that before a decent second in the Grade 2 Suburban behind Mucho Macho Man last July 7. He was fourth in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational and eighth in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational September 29 but rebounded in October with a win the minor Frank Martin Stakes October 19. Hymn finished 2012 with a fifth in the Grade 1Cigar Mile and then took nearly six months off. Since his return he has two starts and two seconds - in the minor Criminal Type Stakes last time out June 14 and in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs May 3. He has placed in nine of 15 stakes races and figures to be Take Charge Indy's biggest threat.
Pants On Fire - had a fifth in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds last April 1 and followed that with a sixth in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic. He did win the minor Skip Away Stakes at Monmouth in May but was sixth again as favorite in the Delta Mile Stakes at Delta Downs November 17. He started 2013 with a third in the Hal's Hope January 13 went on to an Allowance Optional Claiming score February 15 and another pair of thirds - the Grade 3 Skip Away Stakes here in March and the minor Mountainview Handicap at Penn National last time out June 1. He has done well at this track in the past and enters in decent form.
Norman Abjornson - has placed in 10 of his last 12 starts for trainer Carlos Mancilla including a win in the minor Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes at Laurel Park March 16 after a second in the John B. Campbell Handicap February 16. Last time out was a decent second in the minor Mountainview Handicap to Easter Gift June 1 at Penn National after a fifth in the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes April 27. He also had a ninth in the minor Native Dancer Stakes this year after pair of seconds in minor stakes action ended his 2012 campaign. He has 22 career starts with five wins, seven seconds and two third place finishes.
Monmouth Cup betting at Monmouth Park with OffTrackBetting.com
Big Sur - has 29 career starts with five wins, six seconds and nine third place finishes and is coming off a good second in his graded stakes debut - the Grade 3 Salvator Mile on this track July 6. Before that was his stakes debut - a nice win in the minor Majestic Light Stakes here May 25 in gate-to-wire fashion. He also has a Starter Allowance score this year and is a sneaky entry into the Monmouth Cup.
Ponzi Scheme - last raced in graded stakes company in August 2012 and finished sixth in the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin on this track but has concentrated on mostly minor stakes races since. Last time out was a win in the Stymie Stakes at this distance Delaware Park July 11 after a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming on this track June 8. He has placed in three of four starts this year but has yet to record a good showing in a graded stakes race.
Small Town Talk - has just one start in 2013 for trainer Charles Simon - a sixth in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile here July 6. He finished his 2012 campaign with a fourth in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct. Before that he finished third behind Gourmet Dinner and Ponzi Scheme in the Majestic Light Stakes in his stakes debut last July and followed that with a decent third in the Grade 3 Philip Iselin in August and a second in the Frank "Pancho" Martin Stakes October 19. He has failed to place in his last two graded stakes efforts and will be looking for his first win since June 2012 - an Allowance on this track.