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Paco Lopez celebrates aboard Hunter O'Riley after winning the 2019 United Nations Stakes
The first Grade 1 stakes race of the Monmouth Park summer meeting is the $310,000 United Nations Stakes (G1). A field of 9 older horses went 1 3/8 miles around 3 turns of the turf on Saturday afternoon before 11,815 fans enjoying sunny skies with temperatures in the low 80's. Channel Cat was sent off as the 9-5 favorite off his 5th place finish in the Manhattan (G1). In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Focus Group, 6th in the Man O'War (G1), and 4-1 third choice Monarchs Glen, 4th in the Monmouth Stakes (G2).
Down the stretch with Hunter O'Riley closing on the outside
Photos courtesy Nancy Rokos
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Hunter O'Riley Lopez 30.20 12.60 7.60 6 Zulu Alpha Hill 8.40 5.00 2 Channel Cat Saez 3.00 Winning Time: 2:17.10 $1 Exacta 7-6 129.00 $1 Trifecta 7-6-2 497.90 $1 Superfecta 7-6-2-1 1235.70
Left: Hunter O'Riley in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Jimmy Toner said, "A super ride by Paco. This horse has a tendency to take himself out of races. Paco saved ground all the way and he was with the field and then when he hit the turn and tipped out – I thought he might have tipped out a0 little too far – but once he tipped out he made a good run the last part of it. He rode a tremendous race on him. (The instructions were) save as much ground with him as you can all the way but when you get around tip outside. He runs better on the outside. He couldn't have followed orders any better than that."
Right: Hunter O'Riley walks over before the race. Winning jockey Paco Lopez added, "Jimmy said whatever you want to do, just don't stay on the rail and don't stay inside. He said stay outside. I was worried a little bit about the slow fractions but my horse in the first turn was very comfortable. Jimmy asked me to rate him and keep him in a good position. At a half mile I started to get him outside and then when I asked him to run he really gave me what he has. I had good position the whole way. I liked where I was. He fired a little slowly but then he got rolling."
Left: Second place finisher Zulu Alpha in the post parade. The Mike Maker trainee improved his record to 8 wins, 4 seconds, and 5 thirds in 26 starts, earning $571,374 for owner Michael Hui.
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Channel Cat returns after the race. The Todd Pletcher trainee improved his record to 4 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds in 15 starts, earning $600,792 for owner-breeder Calumet Farm.
Monongahela wins the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3)
Jockey Jose Ortiz sent Diamond King to the lead first time by through fractions of 22.88, 46.79, and 1:11.05 while pressed by Monongahela and stalked by Bal Harbour and 5-1 Runnin'toluvya. Turning for home, jockey Jose Lezcano sent Monongahela to lead through 1 mile in 1:35.98. Kept to task by Lezcano, Monongahela drew off late to win by 4 lengths over Bal Harbour in 1:42.45 over the fast main track. It was another 1 1/2 length back to favorite and pacesetter Diamond King third.
Results chart from DRF
Left: Monongahela returns after the race. Winning trainer Jason Servis said, "I wasn't the one who changed this horse's running style, Jose Lezcano did. He told me `I want to be forwardly placed. I think he prefers that instead of he has been running.' He also told me didn't like horses on the outside of him. I told him `Jose, you ride him however you want.' He learned a lot when he rode him two races ago." Jockey Jose Lezcano added, "The one time I rode him before this we were further back and I felt like he didn't want to go by horses even though I thought I had plenty of horse. Today I tried to put him a lot closer, that way he can finish and do the job."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Diamond King in the post parade. The John Servis trainee improved his record to 5 wins, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds in 14 starts, earning $601,600 for owners D.J. Stable, Cash is King Stable, and LC Racing.
Valedictorian wins the Eatontown Stakes
Jockey Luis Saez sent 12-1 longest shot Conquest Hardcandy to lead first time by through fractions of 23.77 and 47.86 while pressed by Valedictorian and stalked by Inflexibility. On the far turn jockey Paco Lopez sent Valedictorian to the front through 3/4 in 1:12.29 and she opened up a 4 length lead midstretch through 1 mile in 1:37.27. 17-2 Maid to Remember, last early under Jorge Vargas Jr., put in a 3 wide rally to no avail as Valedictorian cruised to a 2 3/4 length win in 1:43.70. It was a nose back to Inflexibility third.
Results chart from DRF
Left: Valedictorian returns after the race. Winning trainer Kelly Breen said, "There are not too many like her. It's really fun to have in our barn. She likes it here, but I didn't know if she would like it today with all of the rain we had, although she did win on a yielding turf at Laurel. But I was concerned about the footing."
Right: Second place finisher Maid to Remember heads out to the track before the race. The Graham Motion trainee improved her record to 1 win, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 10 starts, earning $75,257 for owner Gaynor Rupert.
Pink Sands wins the Lady's Secret Stakes
Jockey Luis Saez sent Alberobello to lead through fractions of 23.37 and 47.21 while pressed by 8-1 Coffee Crush and stalked by 14-1 Breaking Bread. On the far turn Breaking Bread took over through 3/4 in 1:11.83 and led to midstretch. However, Pink Sands, last early under Jose Ortiz, came out 4 wide to take over through 1 mile in 1:38.07 and drew off to win by 3 1/2 lengths in 1:44.56. It was a neck back to Sun Studio third, while Alberobello faded to finish 5th.
Results chart from DRF
Left: Pink Sands returns after the race. Bobby Medina, assistant to winning trainer Shug McGaughey said, "In training she's had three works with the blinkers. Not that it put speed in her but she seemed to level off a lot better with the blinkers. They were going pretty good out there early and she's kind of a one-run horse. It takes her a while to get going but once she does it's impressive. We figured this was a good spot for her to try first time around two turns. She had been progressing to that and we thought this would tell us where we stood so we can map out the rest of the year with her."
Right: Second place finisher Breaking Bread in the post parade. The Jorge Navarro trainee improved her record to 6 wins, 5 seconds, and 4 thirds in 21 starts, earning $303,460 for owners Imaginary Stables and Glenn Ellis.
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