2022 United Nations Stakes

This is not Saratoga, but nevertheless Chad Brown is definitely the man to watch at Monmouth Park Racetrack on Saturday as he trains the morning-line favorite in all four Graded stakes on the Haskell undercard: Tribhuvan in the G1 2022 United Nations Stakes, Search Results in the G3 Molly Pitcher, Fluffy Socks in the G3 Matchmaker, and Highly Motivated in the G3 Monmouth Cup

Molly Pitcher Stakes

Grade 3, $400,000, 1m 1/2f, 3yo+ fillies/mares

The big older-mare race of the weekend is the Shuvee at Saratoga, but there is a connection to the Molly Pitcher in the shape of heavy favorite Search Results, who is taking considerable class relief here.

Search Results was only fourth-choice of five in the mile-sixteenth G1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park, but she had a greater effect on the outcome of the race than her third place would suggest. She was part of the ferocious speed duel that wrecked the chance of the great Letruska, yet Search Results still had plenty left for the stretch run, only giving best in the final sixteenth when run down by the top-class Clairiere and Malathaat, who face off again in the Shuvee on Sunday.

It was a remarkable performance by Search Results, on a level even above her previous victory in the G2 Ruffian at the same track, and she faces nothing of the class of Clairiere and Malathaat today. Hopefully those exertions won’t have taken too much out of her, and she gets first-time Lasix.

She should have little to fear from Ogden Phipps fourth Bonny South, who was almost seven lengths in arrears and never showed with a chance. Bonny South has shown throughout her career that she can’t quite get the job done at the top level – zero-for-six in G1s – but she ran very well in the G3 Doubledogdare when runner-up to a not-at-her-peak Malathaat on her 2022 debut. That makes her a major player in this grade and although she is riding a seven-race losing streak she is usually more highly tried.

Malathaat and Clairiere were also too good for Army Wife when they met last year, and that filly’s form appeared to have plateaued until she bounced back in a mile-eighth stakes at third-tier Thistledown last time, holding on gamely in the closing stages to prove her stomach for a fight was still intact.

This is obviously much tougher but she should be in the mix, as should Pennybaker, who ran possibly the worst race of her life last time when a flat sixth as second-favorite in the seven-furlong G3 Chicago at Churchill Downs. She is better than that, as she demonstrated when romping by six and three-quarter lengths in a mile stakes at Laurel Park – Shalimar Gardens a well-beaten fourth – and the extra yardage today may move her back up.

Only a head separated Leader Of The Band and Beth’s Dream when they filled the exacta in a stakes over course and distance last month, and as Leader Of The Band is two-for-three at this track she deserves plenty of respect, although this is a step up in class. That was Beth’s Dream’s stakes debut and she has the scope for further improvement.

Molly Pitcher Betting Pick

Search Results offers no value at the odds and a chance is taken that PENNYBAKER can bounce back to her best with the extra distance to help her.

Leader of the BandFrankie Pennington+600
PennybakerJose L. Ortiz+500
Search ResultsFlavien Prat+150
Army WifeJoel Rosario+350
Beth’s DreamPaco Lopez+600
Shalimar GardensManuel Franco+1500
Bonny SouthFlorent Geroux+3000

Monmouth Cup Stakes

Grade 3, $400,000, 1m 1f, 3yo+

This is a very poor race for a $400,000 purse and it will be a major surprise if the ubiquitous Chad Brown doesn’t provide the winner from his two contenders.

The most interesting horse in the field is Highly Motivated, who was fifth-choice for last year’s Kentucky Derby after running a superb race in the G2 Blue Grass at Keeneland, beaten just a neck by the top-class Essential Quality and finishing five and a half lengths clear of future Preakness winner Rombauer.

He had every chance at Churchill Downs before dropping back to finish tenth as his stamina steadily gave out, and perhaps there was more to it than that, as Highly Motivated didn’t reappear for a year and looked in need of the runout when fourth in an allowance optional claimer over seven furlongs at Keeneland. Next time out he gamely ground out victory in an AOC over a mile at Belmont Park, and he should be back to near his peak on this third start following a long layoff.

His only serious rival is his barnmate Pipeline, who disappeared without trace on his first start in Graded company when a distant eighth and last in the G1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in December. He returned to winning form on his reappearance in April when making all and clearing away to score by nine lengths in allowance grade, again at the Big A, and merits another chance at this level, especially in such a soft contest.

At least the old-timer Rough Sea is in good form, hitting the board on his last five starts, including victory in a mile-eighth stakes at Laurel Park in April and in a starter optional claimer here last time out, when he hosed a short field by ten lengths. This is the toughest test of his life but the nine-year-old could stay on the board.

King Of Dreams won a stakes on the synthetic surface at Gulfstream Park on his penultimate start of 2021, but hasn’t finished closer than seventh in three runs since. If he rediscovers his old zip he could appeal to exotics players.

Thirteen months ago Informative sprang an 80-1 shock in the G3 Salvator Mile at this track, but it was plainly a fluke as he has been beaten in eight straight stakes since then and was simply there for the beer money when last of five in the G1 Met Mile at Belmont Park last time.

Don’t take the third place of Antigravity in last year’s G1 Haskell at face value, as he would have been a distant fifth but for a DNF and a disqualification. He hasn’t been able to make it pay in AOCs since then, but Top Gun Tommy did actually win an AOC here over a mile last time out and is another with claims to hit the board.

Monmouth Cup Betting Choice

Even though HIGHLY MOTIVATED’s odds are unexciting, he will never have a better opportunity to win a Graded stakes and he cannot be opposed.

AntigravityPaco Lopez+1200
Top Gun TommyAlbin Jimenez+1500
InformativeDexter Haddock+1000
Rough SeaSamuel Marin+600
King of DreamsSamy Camacho+800
PipelineManuel Franco+150
Highly MotivatedFlavien Prat+120

2022 United Nations Stakes

Grade 1, $600,000, 1m 3f turf, 3yo+

A field of old foes faces the starter for the 2022 United Nations Stakes, the highlight of the undercard at Monmouth Park, with memories of last year’s race likely to be front and center when bettors consider this year’s contest.

Twelve months ago Tribhuvan was the morning-line favorite and justified that billing by going gate to wire, setting steady fractions and winding up the pace to stay out ahead by two lengths at the wire, with boxcar longshot Epic Bromance another length away in third and Glynn County producing a mild rally to finish fifth, his first defeat in a losing streak that now stands at ten.

A year later, Tribhuvan is again top of the tote board and comes here at the top of his game after taking down the ten-furlong G1 Manhattan at Belmont Park with another freewheeling display, stretching the opposition right out and having plenty left for the lane, beating the late-running pair of barnmate Adhamo by three and a half lengths and Gufo by another length.

The likelihood is that Tribhuvan will get his own way on the lead once again, and unless his rivals are more savvy to the situation than previously he has a fine chance of staying ahead.

That was another fine effort from Adhamo, who didn’t get a clear run at a crucial stage, and his consistency gives him a big chance, but he is riding an eight-race losing streak going back to his days in France and often gets too far back in his races.

Dual G1 winner Gufo is almost guaranteed to be in the mix and won the G2 Pan American at Gulfstream Park in April when again rallying late, with Temple nearly seven lengths behind in fourth. He also is often left with plenty to do from the final turn.

The slow-burning Kentucky Ghost finally got the job done in stakes company when doing all his best work late here over a mile-sixteenth in May, with Carpenters Call and Mohs well back in sixth and seventh.

Today’s distance has never suited Kentucky Ghost, though, and with pace – albeit not necessarily a fast pace – guaranteed he may find the tank emptying before the race is on in earnest. Carpenters Call returned to winning form last time out, but it was just an allowance optional claimer at little Presque Isle Downs and now he’s in a different league.

New Jersey-bred He’spuregold is hunting a hat-trick, but takes a huge leap in class and it’s only a two-week turnaround since his last start. He’ll struggle.

2022 United Nations Betting Pick

With TRIBHUVAN almost guaranteed to get his own way on the lead again, he has excellent prospects of repeating last year’s success in this race.

Adhamo (IRE)Flavien Prat+300
Carpenters CallSamy Camacho+2000
TempleJose L. Ortiz+600
Tribhuvan (FR)Manuel Franco+250
He’spuregoldPaco Lopez+2000
MohsJairo Rendon+2000
Glynn CountyMike E. Smith+1000
Kentucky GhostFlorent Geroux+1200
Epic BromanceJose C. Ferrer+1200
GufoJoel Rosario+300

Matchmaker Stakes

Grade 3, $200,000, 1m 1f turf, 3yo+ fillies/mares

Horses for courses is always a faithful standby and there’s a fine example in the Matchmaker, in which local favourite Vigilantes Way takes on a three-pronged assault from the powerful Chad Brown distaff battalion.

Vigilantes Way has run five times at the Oceanport circuit and has never been out of the first two, turning in a typically solid performance on her most recent start in the G3 Eatontown over a mile-sixteenth, when she couldn’t get to grips with the all-the-way winner but kept on well to be a clear second-best, two and three-quarter lengths ahead of Lemista in third place, with the favourite Fluffy Socks a neck back in fourth.

She looks certain to give another good account of herself, although G2 winner Fluffy Socks is liable to be a more potent threat, having beaten all but G1-winning barnmate Bleecker Street in the G3 Modesty at Churchill Downs on her previous start. Her Eatontown effort was a below-par showing and she could well rebound.

Her barnmate Lemista has become something of an enigma, losing all her five races since importing from Ireland and without a win since taking a G2 at the Curragh almost exactly two years ago. She can’t be ruled out, given her trainer’s brilliance in this division, but neither can she be relied on.

Brown’s other runner is Flighty Lady, who finally showed a flicker of her former fine French form – G1 placed – when a longshot third, after cutting out the early fractions, behind the aforementioned Bleecker Street in the G1 New York at Belmont Park, with Core Values a length and a half away in sixth place. Flighty Lady will be in the mix if able to back up that display and she could dictate on the front end, but it’s rare that she runs two races alike.

A greater threat could be Lady Rockstar, who was nothing special in Britain but has blossomed after moving Stateside, winning both her starts in allowance company at Churchill Downs and Belmont. This is obviously a much stiffer test, but she has potential for further improvement and this could be the right spot for her. She was well beaten on her only start in stakes in Britain, but she’s clearly a different proposition now.

Wholebodemeister was a shock winner of the G2 Davona Dale on dirt at Gulfstream Park in February 2021, but missed the rest of the campaign and has done very little in three starts this year. She switches to turf for the first time but it looks something of a ‘Hail Mary’. Office Etiquette is an eight-race maiden who will shortly become a nine-race maiden.

Matchmaker Stakes Betting Prediction

There are question marks over Chad Brown’s trio and a safer option is track specialist VIGILANTES WAY, whose last run was arguably a career-best.

WholebodemeisterHector Rafael Diaz, Jr.+2000
Lemista (IRE)Flavien Prat+500
Office EtiquetteSamuel Marin+3000
Lady Rockstar (GB)Jose L. Ortiz+300
Flighty Lady (IRE)Joel Rosario+350
Fluffy SocksManuel Franco+250
Vigilantes WayPaco Lopez+350
Core ValuesFlorent Geroux+800

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