Along with undefeated Jack Christopher in the Haskell (G1), trainer Chad Brown has leading contenders in all the graded stakes on the undercard at Monmouth Park on Saturday. Among his high-profile runners are Tribhuvan, the defending United Nations (G1) champ, and Search Results in the Molly Pitcher (G3).
United Nations (G1) – Race 11 (5:09 p.m. ET)
Tribhuvan, the 5-2 favorite, will try to emulate English Channel (2006-07) and Presious Passion (2008-09) as repeat winners since the historic turf test moved from Atlantic City to Monmouth in 1999. The other two-time winner in this span was Brown’s Big Blue Kitten, although in non-consecutive years (2013 and 2015).
An exuberant front runner, Tribhuvan opened up a big lead here last summer before holding on by two lengths. The French import subsequently lost his way, and after fading to fifth in his reappearance in the Turf Classic (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day, was totally overlooked in the Manhattan (G1) on Belmont Day. But Brown had noted that several of his horses struggled on a Churchill course that was riding slower than the official firm.
Back on firm turf in the Manhattan, Tribhuvan bounced back to top form at 19-1. Indeed, he almost wired last year’s Manhattan, until run down by stablemate Domestic Spending, who wasn’t there to stop him this time. Jockey Manny Franco aims to ration out his speed as effectively aboard the 124-pound co-highweight.
Stablemate Adhamo, a troubled second in the Manhattan, reduced the gap to 3 1/2 lengths to round out the Brown exacta. Placed in all three starts since arriving from France, the recruit flew late when a head runner-up in the Fair Grounds (G3) and trudged on for third in Churchill’s Turf Classic. Adhamo keeps knocking on the door, and a returning Flavien Prat hopes to engineer a breakthrough. He renews rivalry with Tribhuvan a couple of pounds better off at the weights, now in receipt of six pounds.
The Christophe Clement-trained Gufo, third in the Manhattan for the second straight year, is often hostage to the pace. But the multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire has gone close in both prior attempts at this 1 3/8-mile trip, when runner-up in the past two editions of the Man o’ War (G1). If Gufo can get going earlier for Joel Rosario, the co-highweight has a potent stretch kick.
Mike Maker’s Temple has not been seen since finishing fourth to Gufo in the April 2 Pan American (G2), but he’d taken the Mac Diarmida (G2) in his prior start. Not to be forgotten are the respective third and fifth from the 2021 United Nations, Epic Bromance and Maker’s Glynn County, who tuned up by finishing third and sixth in the June 18 Monmouth (G3). Kentucky Ghost went last to first in the May 28 Cliff Hanger S. over the course, while Mohs improved from a comeback seventh in the Cliff Hanger to a rallying fifth in the Monmouth.
There are a couple, aside from Epic Bromance, who could possibly try to attend Tribhuvan – Carpenter’s Call and He’spuregold, winner of the state-bred Irish War Cry S. last out with Paco Lopez.
Molly Pitcher (G3) – Race 10 (4:38 pm. ET)
Search Results sports the best formline in the Molly Pitcher, and gets first-time Lasix as well. Last year’s Acorn (G1) heroine and Kentucky Oaks (G1) near-misser lost no luster when third in the June 11 Ogden Phipps (G1). By taking it to Letruska early, Search Results dueled her into submission, but set it up for the late-running duo of Clairiere and champion Malathaat. Now she’s the class of the field, as evidenced by her top weight of 124 pounds and 3-2 morning-line favoritism.
Bonny South, a non-threatening fourth in the Ogden Phipps, will appreciate stretching back out to a two-turn version of 1 1/16 miles. The Brad Cox mare has scored both of her graded wins at this configuration, in the 2020 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and 2021 Doubledogdare (G3). Two back when trying to repeat in the Doubledogdare, Bonny South was runner-up to Malathaat. Note that she gets six pounds from Search Results.
Army Wife might prefer a bit further, as last season’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2) winner who regained the podium in the Lady Jacqueline S. at Thistledown in her latest. But the Maker filly’s stamina could come into play if the pace is as strong as projected on paper. Beth’s Dream, just worn down by Leader of the Band in the local prep, the Lady’s Secret S., and recent New York-bred allowance romper Shalimar Gardens figure to ensure an at least honest tempo. The wildcard is Godolphin’s Pennybaker, a smashing winner of her U.S. debut in the Heavenly Cause S. at Laurel before flopping on the slight cutback in the Chicago (G3) at Churchill.
Matchmaker (G3) – Race 9 (4:05 p.m. ET)
As its name implies, the $200,000 Matchmaker (G3) prizes include seasons to WinStar Farm stallions Global Campaign, Tom’s d’Etat, and Improbable. Brown is triple-handed with Flighty Lady (7-2), who almost upset the New York (G1) before being caught late in third, and Grade/Group 2 veterans Fluffy Socks (5-2) and Lemista (5-1). The latter two must step up from a recent loss over the course in the 1 1/16-mile Eatontown (G3), where Lemista and Fluffy Socks were third and fourth respectively in a paceless affair. The added ground of the 1 1/8-mile Matchmaker could help both.
The primary challengers to the Brown team are Shug McGaughey’s Vigilantes Way and Lady Rockstar from the Brendan Walsh barn. Horse-for-the-course Vigilantes Way, second in her Eatontown title defense, has never been out of the exacta in five local starts. Frankel filly Lady Rockstar, 2-for-2 stateside, warrants this first graded opportunity after dominating allowances at Churchill Downs and Belmont Park. The Vicki Oliver-trained Core Values belongs as the Bewitch (G3) third and close sixth in the New York.
Monmouth Cup (G3) – Race 8 (3:29 p.m. ET)
Brown has the two principals in the $400,000 Monmouth Cup (G3) on the main track, 6-5 favorite Highly Motivated and the 3-2 Pipeline. Highly Motivated is proven at the 1 1/8-mile distance, having missed narrowly to champion Essential Quality in the 2021 Blue Grass (G2). Sidelined after a 10th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), the son of Into Mischief just scored in a salty Belmont Park allowance in his second start back. Stablemate Pipeline, a close third in last October’s Perryville S., crushed a one-mile Aqueduct allowance by nine lengths in his sole outing of 2022.
Informative returns to the scene of his nearly 80-1 stunner in last year’s Salvator Mile (G3). The Uriah St. Lewis charge hasn’t backed that up, however, and comes off trailing efforts in the Westchester (G3) and Metropolitan H. (G1). Native Dancer S. winner Rough Sea takes a class hike after a 10-length conquest versus much lesser, and Top Gun Tommy makes his stakes debut off a local allowance tally for Kelly Breen.
The stakes action begins early with the $100,000 Wolf Hill S. (Race 3 at 12:54 p.m. ET), with The Critical Way seeking a repeat in the 5 1/2-furlong turf dash. The eight-year-old exits a fourth in the Select S. to Belgrano and Proven Strategies.