OCEANPORT, NJ — Force the Pass made Opening Day 2018 at Monmouth Park a local affair when he out dueled the New Jersey-bred Irish Strait to win the $75,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes.

A crowd of 20,736 turned out to welcome the Thoroughbreds back to the Jersey shore as Monmouth opened on Kentucky Derby Day for the first time

Racing in the colors of Richard Santulli's Colts Neck Stables, the six-year-old horse came from fourth place to overtake Irish Strait, a 6-year-old owned and bred by Isabelle de Tomaso, the granddaughter of Monmouth Park founder Amory L. Haskell.

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After battling hammer and tongs down the stretch with Irish Strait on the rail and Force the Pass to his outside, the photo finish camera showed Force the Pass had won his first race since scoring in the 2015 running of the Belmont Derby.

The Alan Goldberg trainee was urged over the line by jockey Jevian Toledo.

Force the Pass, a son of Speightstown from Social Queen, notched his fifth lifetime win from 14 starts with almost all of those against graded stakes rivals.

Monmouth Park's winner's check for $45,000 boosted his earnings to over $1.2 million. Longshot Dalarna, with Emmanuel Esquivel in the saddle, was third in a race in which seven runners went postward.

Force the Pass stopped the timer in 1:33.60 seconds to gain the win over a firm Jersey Shore turf course.

The 20,000+ crowd wagered $591,090 on the nine-race program. The all-source handle was over $3.1 million. Live racing returns at Monmouth Park on Saturday, May 12.

A Check Is On The Way To Anna House

ELMONT, N.Y. — The check is in the mail. It's not as big a check as I would have liked. But, every dollar helps.

That's my Day-After-the-Kentucky-Derby message for the folks at the Belmont Child Care Association, the operators of Anna House, the preschool and day care facility for the children of the back stretch workers at Aqueduct and Belmont Park.

As followers of my reports on this site know, I respect the fact that betting on the races is what makes this whole Thoroughbred racing endeavor viable. But, I prefer to leave the gambling aspect to those who do it for the sake of gambling on something.

But, annually, I do make a few wagers on the Kentucky Derby using my money — not the publishers. All winnings are sent to Anna House.

Having looked into my crystal ball and after reading some tea leaves — all while studying past performances — I bet $20 to win on Justify.

I'm not sure if it was the crystal ball or the tea leaves that touted the Hall of Fame duo of trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith were going into the race with an undefeated colt who had dominated his rivals in his Derby preps, all against quality stock at Santa Anita.

A proven ability to win on a sloppy track at the Arcadia oval was a great hedge against the Churchill Downs surface coming up wet on Derby Day — which it did.

Two minutes and 4.20 seconds after the gate opened, Justify came home a handy winner and my $20 bet became a $78 winner.

Alas, that's as far as my orb (I had Orb when he won the 2013 Derby), tea leaves and pp's would take me in 2018.

My $5 exacta box and $2 trifecta box went down the drain early when Magnum Moon broke inward as the gates opened. He caused a jam up effect with the three horses immediately inside of him. One of those was Mendelssohn, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and UAE Derby winner who shipped over from Ireland for the Derby.

Magnum Moon managed something of an effort only to get bounced by My Boy Jack at the 5/16-pole. Mendelssohn encountered more traffic trouble and was eased by Irish champion jockey Ryan Moore to save a very valuable colt to race another day.

My check to Anna House is in the mail. I hope those of you who enjoy horse racing as much as I do are on the way to the post office with your contributions that came from winning Derby tickets.

As a reminder, address the envelope to:

Anna House

2150 Hempstead Tpke.

Belmont Park, Gate 30

Elmont, NY 11003

Send me an e-mail care of LShupe@TAPintoHORSES.net and let me know how well you did —and how much you sent to Anna House.

Tale Of Silence Wins First Career Stakes In Blanket Finish In G3 Westchester

ELMONT, N.Y. — Charles Fipke's Tale of Silence made a strong stretch-drive move up the rail, capturing a thrilling blanket finish with three challengers a head apart to win the 90th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Westchester for 4-year-olds and up in the last of three stakes on May 5 at Belmont Park.

Tale of Silence stayed off the pace in the five-horse field as Conquest Big E surged to the front with a quarter-mile in 22.91 seconds and the half in 45.92 with 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing and multiple Grade 3 winner Tommy Macho giving chase.

Out of the turn, jockey Dylan Davis moved Tale of Silence to the inside, gaining ground on a dueling Cloud Computing and Tommy Macho while Vulcan's Forge continued to challenge from the outside. The foursome nearly hit the wire simultaneously, with Tale of Silence eking out a victory by a nose over Vulcan's Forge in completing one mile in 1:36.14.

Tale of Silence won for the first time in seven starts and posted his career stakes win for trainer Barclay Tagg. The Tale of the Cat colt, who was returning to stakes company after finishing third against allowance company last out on March 9 at Gulfstream Park, has finished on the board in five of his last six races. All three of his career wins have come on Belmont's Big Sandy.

Vulcan's Forge, trained by Todd Pletcher, finished a nose ahead of stablemate Tommy Macho for second while Tommy Macho was a head apart from Cloud Computing to finish on the board.

Conquest Big E rounded out the field while Moe Trouble was a late scratch.

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