OCEANPORT, N.J. — The United Nations undercard at Monmouth Park on June 30 offered a couple of gate-to-wire races from small fields as a prelude to the grass feature. Here's a look.
Harlan Punch, racing for the New York-based owner-trainer David Jacobson, made every stride a winning when when he stepped out of the gate first and stayed there to win the $100,000, Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes.
The field for the mile and 1/16 race on the main track was reduced from seven original entries to four when trainer Mary Eppler scratched Enough Is Enough and stayed in with Page McKenney, the winner of Monmouth's Salvatore Mile in his last outing. Trainer Gary Sciacca and the Yellow Moon Stables put up the $4,000 to get Hit It Once More into the race as a supplementary entry and then scratched the veteran campiagner. Jacobson followed the old racing adage of 'Why run two when one will do' when he took Red Rifle out at scratch time.
Long Branch, N.J.'s Joe Bravo took the riding call from Jacobson on Harlan Punch and then made short work of the 83rd running of the race named for one of Monmouth Park's founders. He gunned the 5-year-old gelding out of the gate and never looked back until they crossed the line 5-1/4 lengths ahead of the Pennsylvania-bred Page McKenney. Backsideofthemoon settled for third 1-1/2 lengths astern of Page McKenney. Imperative was fourth.
Harlan Punch stopped the timer in 1:44-2/5 seconds over a fast track to score his eighth lifetime win from 31 starts and up his racing bankroll over the $650,000 mark.
The 47th running of the Eatontown Stakes — this one a Grade 3 worth $100,000 — was also decimated by scratches when three of the eight older fillies and mares originally entered were withdrawn.
When the remaining five got to the starting gate, the always dynamite pair of two-time Eclipse trainer Chad Brown and New York riding champion Irad Ortiz, Jr. worked their magic again with Joseph Allen's Dream Awhile.
The home-bred daughter of War Front from the Irish mare Baroness Richter was first out of the gate and first under the wire in the turf event that allowed her to post her first win graded stakes company after five starts overseas and four tries here.
With the rider keeping her busy down the stretch, Dream Awhile finished three-quarters of a length to the good of Emory Hamilton's Special Event who was making her first start in graded stakes company. Elysea's World, the winner of Gulftream's Grade 3 Swanee River Stakes two starts back settled for third place.
Dream Awhile ran the 8-1/2 furlongs on a firm turn course in 1:41-2/5. She is now 4 for 10 overall with earnings above $200,000.
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