Field & Odds for the 97th Monmouth Oaks
As much as trainer John Servis would prefer to keep his promising 3-year-old fillies Midnight Obsession and Leader of the Band on separate paths, he's sending both in the same stakes race for the second time in four weeks.
Midnight Obsession, second in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks on July 3, and Leader of the Band, third in the same race, are part of a nine-horse field for the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, the headliner on Saturday's 12-race card at Monmouth Park.
"The biggest reason I'm doing this again is because there are not enough 3-year-old races around right now," said Servis. "But both of these fillies both also deserve this chance. They're both doing really good."
||She a Hot Mess
||Hector Diaz, Jr.
||Leader of the Band
||Orbs Baby Girl
|Anthony Margotta, Jr.
|Saffie Joseph, Jr.
||Edie Meeny Miny Mo
In the case of Midnight Obsession, who has two wins and two seconds in four career starts, all this year, Servis is also curious to see how the daughter of Overanalyze handles a fast track. She has yet to race on one.
Leader of the Band, with a 2-2-2 line from six career starts, will look to make amends after a poor start in the Delaware Oaks that saw the daughter of Bandbox rally from last in the nine-horse field to get third, though she was beaten 8¾ lengths by race winner Crazy Beautiful.
Midnight Obsession was six lengths behind the winner.
"I think Leader of the Band will improve off her last race," said Servis. "She got off flat footed and didn't break well at all. And I'm hoping for a fast track for Midnight Obsession to see how she'll handle that. She hasn't run on one yet."
Midnight Obsession, owned by Main Line Racing Stable, has been more aggressively spotted by Servis to this point. After winning her debut by 5¼ lengths at Parx on March 2, she won an $80,000 allowance optional claimer at Belmont Park. She was then second, beaten just a half-length, in the Lyphard Stakes against older fillies at Penn National on May 28.
The runner-up showing in the Delaware Oaks followed that.
"She has been very forward since day one," said Servis. "She has run good for us every time so far. When she was second against older fillies (in the Lyphard) she beat the rest of the field pretty good and then hooked a good one in the Delaware Oaks. We're looking for a good race from her."
The mile and a sixteenth won't be an issue for Midnight Obsession since her last three races have been at that distance.
Paco Lopez is listed to ride.
Leader of the Band, owned by SMD Limited, has had a slower progression to reach this point, though she has never been worse than third in her career.
"I thought she ran well in the Delaware Oaks, all things considered," said Servis. "She was way back after the break. Quite frankly, I didn't think she had a prayer and she had a nice run to be third. I know she got beat quite a bit. It wasn't her best effort but I expect more from her this time."
Frankie Pennington has the mount.
Trainer Miguel Vera is fully aware of the challenges facing his 3-year-old filly Edie Meeny Miny Mo in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks at Monmouth Park on Saturday, July 31.
She has never been around two turns, nor has she ever tried any stakes company yet. And she's the least experienced filly in the nine-horse field with just two career starts.
But Vera remains confident in her chances in the $250,000 mile and a sixteenth feature for one important reason: Talent. Edie Meeny Miny Mo, he says, oozes it.
"It's a big step up for her but she deserves this chance," said Vera. "She has shown she has the potential to be a special horse."
A Maryland-bred daughter of Upstart-Plum by Pure Prize, Edie Meeny Miny Mo was unraced at 2 "because she's a big filly who needed time to grow and develop," said Vera.
Her debut on April 23 at Pimlico in a six-furlong maiden race was impressive - a 4¼-length win. But her follow-up in an optional $62,000 claimer at Pimlico on June 13 bordered on dazzling. She won that six-furlong dash by six-lengths despite being steadied as Vera used the race to teach her to come off the pace. That effort earned her a 91 Beyer Speed Figure.
"I know there is a question about the distance since her only two races have been six furlongs and she is trying a mile and a sixteenth now," said the Maryland-based Vera. "I don't think it will be a problem. I feel confident she can go that distance. She's the kind of horse who can go a lot of different distances.
"I'm impressed by what she has done but not surprised by it. She showed she had talent from day one."
A further endorsement of the filly's ability: Victor Espinoza is coming in to ride. It is the only mount he has scheduled on the 12-race card.
"I'm very confident in her," said Vera. "I think she is a real race horse. We're going to find out more on Saturday. But she has always shown she should be in these kind of races.
"It's a great race to see where we are with her."
Owned by Holly Hill Stables LLC, Edie Meeny Miny Mo was purchased for $400,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midatlantic 2-year-olds in training sale.
"The day she breezed there she left quite an impression," said Vera. "She does everything right. Sometimes she does more than I ask her to do. But that's her."
For Vera, who has been training since 2011, Edie Meeny Mino Mo, also represents the chance for an elusive graded stakes victory. He has yet to get one.
"It would mean a lot to me," he said. "But just to be in this kind of race, any graded race, is awesome. She has shown me the potential to be the best horse I have ever had."
The 97th edition of the Monmouth Oaks also features a pair of John Servis-trainees in Midnight Obsession and Leader of the Band. They ran second and third, respectively, in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks in their last start.
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