Monmouth Park’s slate of graded stakes races gets off to a rousing
start on Saturday with a full field entered in the $100,000 Red Bank Stakes (Grade
3) at one mile on the turf course.
This 39th running of the Red Bank drew 13
entrants, including 2011 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice, who is in as
“main-track only” and likely to be scratched because the race is almost certain
to be run on the grass.
Topping the 12 entered in the main body of the race is
Live Oak Plantation’s Za Approval, who won the Appleton Stakes (G3) at
Gulfstream in March for trainer Christophe Clement and is the 3-l morning line
choice with Joe Bravo aboard looking for his fourth victory in the Red Bank.
But the race is truly a wide-open betting event, as
evidenced by Brad Thomas’s morning line, that makes three horses co-second
choices at 6-1 – Finale, Tune Me In and Monument Hill.
Patricia Generazio’s Tune Me In was the king of the
Monmouth turf course last year when he won the Oceanport Stakes (G3) in July
and the Cliff Hanger (G3) in September for trainer Bruce Alexander.
The 6-year-old son of Concorde’s Tune would likely have
been favored if not for the fact that he hasn’t run since December, and has
only been in serious training for a month.
“He just got here on April 17,” said Alexander, “and 30
days is not a lot of time to get ready for a race like this. But he’s a good
horse, and he’s good here. He’s run well fresh in the past.”
Tune Me In gets a new rider in Gabriel Saez for the Red
Bank as he tries to shake off the cobwebs for this highly competitive event.
“He came back last year in the McSorley (June 10) after
being out all winter, and he ran well,” Alexander said. “He was third in a fast
sprint (five and a half furlongs in 1:00 4/5) behind a horse (Varsity) who ran
well the whole year, so it was a good effort.
“He is up against it a bit in the Red Bank,” the trainer
said, “but he’s a very good horse with a solid record on the Monmouth turf.
Good horses can overcome bad conditions.”
Tune Me In has a 5-4-3 record in 13 starts on the
Monmouth grass, and his only off-the-board showing was a fifth the first time
he ever ran here, in May of 2010. His record at one mile is impressive as well,
as he’s won four of eight with two seconds.