April 20, 2024

Bigger Picture makes title defense, United Nations heads four-pack of Monmouth stakes

Bigger Picture edged Can'thelpbelieving in the 2017 United Nations and eclipsed Presious Passion's course record (2:10.81) (c) Taylor Ejdys/Equi-Photo

Bigger Picture will attempt to join an elite class of repeat winners, including Manila (1986-87), English Channel (2006-07) and Presious Passion (2008-09), when making a title defense in Saturday’s $300,000 United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park. The 1 3/8-mile turf affair has attracted a cast of nine, including a quartet from the powerful Chad Brown stable, and headlines four stakes on the 13-race card at the Jersey Shore.

Bigger Picture kept top company following his 10-1 upset last year, recording a neck second in the Bowling Green (G2) and a half-length third in the Sword Dancer (G1) before concluding 2017 with a 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Another former claimer who has blossomed into a top-class performer under the direction of Mike Maker, Bigger Picture opened this season with a victory in the John Connelly (G3) and returns to Monmouth off a pair of sevenths in the Pan American (G2) and Man o’ War (G1). Kendrick Carmouche guides the 7-year-old gelding.

Maker will also send out multiple Grade 3 scorer Oscar Nominated, who exits a rallying second in the April 21 Elkhorn (G2). Eric Cancel rides.

Money Multiplier must be viewed as a serious win contender for Brown after recording his second straight win in the Monmouth S. (G2) on May 26. Joe Bravo retains the mount. Stablemate Kurilov returns to stakes competition following a dead-heat win in a May 25 allowance/optional claimer. Second in the Gulfstream Park (G1) three back, the 5-year-old didn’t handle the soft turf when eighth in the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) two starts previously and keeps Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle.

French Group 1 winner Silverwave is capable with his best and will make his third start for Brown, who overtook training duties this season. Silverwave recorded four Group stakes victories but the classy 6-year-old is still trying to find his best form stateside, finishing a close fourth as the favorite to Kurilov last out. Rajiv Maragh picks up the mount. Funtastic completes the Brown contingent and appears likely to add pace following a front-running allowance/optional claiming tally at Belmont.

Vettori Kin invades for Kenny McPeek following a 2 ½-length triumph in the May 19 Louisville H. (G3), the first North American win for the Brazilian Group 1 victor. Co-leading rider Paco Lopez takes over the reins. Multiple Grade 2 winner One Go All Go will show speed. The 6-year-old Virginia-bred ran well in recent months, posting a win and a pair of seconds at the Grade 2 level along with a third in a Grade 1 since early March, but he must rebound from an 11th in the June 9 Manhattan (G1). Profiteer, who dead-heated with Kurilov in the aforementioned allowance, rounds out the line-up.

Eight distaffers are set for the $100,000 Eatontown (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on turf and Brown holds a strong hand with stakes queen Dream Awhile and Grade 3 winner Elysea’s World. Lift Up exits a nice tally in the June 9 Miss Liberty over the course for Michael Dickinson and Gianna’s Dream could fit well at this level for Maker.

The $100,000 Philip H. Iselin (G3) will feature seven older runners at 1 1/16 miles on the main track and veteran Page McKenney is the one to beat following his score in May 26 Salvator Mile (G3) at Monmouth. Mary Eppler trains the 8-year-old gelding, a 15-time stakes winner. Imperative will make his first start since capturing the 2017 Charles Town Classic (G2) 434 days ago.

Multiple stakes heroine Divine Miss Grey tops a field of eight fillies and mares in the $75,000 Lady’s Secret at 1 1/16 miles.