The holiday weekend offers horse racing bettors an opportunity to get in on some major graded stakes action with the running of the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park
The final field is still taking shape for the main event on Sunday's race card at Monmouth, but after handicapping all the entries listed as probable, I have uncovered two horses that would make an excellent exacta bet before the betting odds are made official.
The United Nations Stakes- Monmouth Park
The United Nations is a Grade 1 stakes race open to three-year-old thoroughbreds and up with a total prize purse of $300,000. It will be contested on the turf track at Monmouth over an extended distance of 1 3/8 miles.
Right now there are eight horses listed as probable for Saturday's race, but I see a head-to-head battle shaping up between two veterans at the top of my list. I am going to put Twilight Eclipse in my top position as the No. 91 ranked horse by HRN. Trained by Thomas Albertrani, this seven-year-old gelding has had a long and very successful career that continues to put money in bettor's pockets with a third-place finish in the recent Belmont Gold Cup Invitational at Belmont Park over an extended distance of two miles.
He placed third in the United Nations Stakes last season behind Big Blue Kitten and Slumber. These three ended up in the exact same finishing order later that year in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont.
Triple Threat comes into this race with the highest HRN rating in the field at 8.03, but he is coming off a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont on June 11 over a distance of 1 ¼ mile. Trainer William Mott has battled inconsistency with this six-year-old French-bred horse over the course of his career, but I am counting on a return to form this Saturday.
One of the main reasons I am going with Triple Threat as my second choice besides his lofty HRN rating is past success at this track. One of his best runs in 2015 was a first place finish in the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes last June over a distance of 1 1/8 miles.
Bonus Pick: Mother Goose Stakes- Belmont Park
Some of the top three-year-old fillies and up in the nation will take aim at the $300,000 up for grabs in this Saturday's Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park. This race will be contested on dirt over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.
Trainer Todd Pletcher's Rachel's Valentina should open as a pretty heavy morning line favorite in this race and she is at the top of my board as well with a Horse Racing Nation rank of No. 16 to go along with a lofty 8.51 rating. This three-year-old Kentucky-bred filly is coming off a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs this past May 6 over 1 1/8 miles, but prior to that, she finished in the money in four previous events at a shorter distance.
Her best career run was second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last October over a distance of 1/16 miles. She is a pedigree of famed horse Rachel Alexandra and Bernardini, who's progeny can be traced all the way back to Seattle Slew.
My second free pick in this race would be Lewis Bay, who is trained by Chad Brown. This three-year-old Kentucky-bred filly finished in the money in this year's Kentucky Oaks in third place behind Cathryn Sophia and Land Over Sea. Prior to that, she won the Grade 2 Gazelle Handicap at Aqueduct in early April over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. This followed a second-place finish to Cathryn Sophia on Feb. 27 in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park over a distance of 1 mile.
Lewis Bay has raced in six events as a juvenile and a three-year-old and she has yet to finish out of the money including a trio of first place runs. This is another filly with Bernardini as her pedigree.
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