Big Blue Kitten wins Monmouth's United Nations Stakes
OCEANPORT, N.J. (AP) Big Blue Kitten won the $535,000 United Nations Stakes with a little help from a friend on Sunday at Monmouth Park.
The 7-year-old rallied to win the track's premier grass race by 1 1/2 lengths over stablemate Slumber.
While the top two finishers in the 1 3/8-mile race were trained by Chad Brown, the assist came from another source.
Shining Copper played the role of rabbit, jumping out to a huge lead at 129-1 under Abel Castellano Jr. to insure an honest pace benefiting Big Blue Kitten's closing kick.
Both Shining Copper, trained by Mike Maker, and Big Blue Kitten are owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Brown was part of the pre-race strategy.
''Absolutely, we worked as a team,'' Brown said. ''Mike Maker was nice enough to put this horse in the race at Mr. Ramsey's request. Abel Castellano really did a good job as a team player, and set a nice honest pace. He strung the field out just enough. It all worked out just fine.''
Shining Copper held on for fourth.
Big Blue Kitten made his move on the final turn, rallying three wide down the center of the course for his 13th win in 27 starts and second U.N. victory, having won this stakes in 2013.
Joe Bravo, Monmouth's all-time leading rider, was aboard for his third U.N. win in the last four years.
The biggest surprise was the poor effort by Main Sequence, the defending U.N. champion. Last year's dual Eclipse Award winner as leading turf horse and top older male runner, Main Sequence finished seventh as the 8-5 favorite.
''We had the perfect trip,'' Main Sequence's rider Rajiv Maragh said. ''The pace was there and we sat just where we wanted to, but it just wasn't our day.''
Big Blue Kitten, the 4-1 second choice, paid $10.80, $3.40 and $2.60.
Slumber returned $5.20 and $3.60, and Twilight Eclipse paid $3.60 to show.
After Shining Copper, Imaging was fifth followed by Ashleyluvssugar, Main Sequence, Sycamore Lane and Diving Oath.
Big Blue Kitten's time was 2:11.82.
Also Sunday, Bradester set the pace to win the $154,500 Salvator Mile by two lengths over Red Vine. Corey Lanerie rode for trained Eddie Kenneally as the 5-year-old improved to 6 for 18, paying $15.60 to win. The time was 1:35.32.
Plans continue at Monmouth for Triple Crown winner American Pharoah's appearance in the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 2. Track president Bob Kulina said the gates on Haskell Day would open an hour earlier at 9 a.m. and the first post would be 11:30 a.m. instead of noon to accommodate the anticipated overflow crowd.