Submitted by John Piesen on Friday, July 4, 2014 at 12:00 AM
ONE FOR ROCKY
John Servis has pretty much kept under the radar since the glory days of 2004 with Smarty Jones. Hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Smarty burst upon the sports scene—kind of like a four-legged Tim Howard.
In the interim, Servis did get to train one extra-special horse— Rockville Harbor, a steel-gray thunderbolt whose career was unfortunately cut short by injuries and illness. And worst of all, Rocky passed away two years ago at age 10 just as he was embarking on a successful second career as a stallion.
Rocky left his legacy last Sunday when his son, Majestic Harbor, won the $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita by five lengths at 14-1, beating, among
others, the odds-on terror Game On Dude.
Servis is hoping that was only a forerunner to this Saturday afternoon when he seeks a stakes double an hour apart at Monmouth Park and Delaware Park with horses owned by Main Line Stable.
Servis will run Tiz’naz, a winner of three straight, all at double-digits in the 100K Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth, and a one-two finish earns the Tiz
Wonderful colt an automatic invite to the Haskell on July 27.
Stew Elliott, who has been looking for another Smarty for 10 years, rides Tiz’naz for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile Long Branch from the outside post in a field of nine that includes Irish You Well, a two-back third in the Peter Pan to Tonalist and Commissioner, whom you’ll recall replicated that finish in the Belmont Stakes. Irish You Well, from post two, figures to sit a stalking trip behind Encryption, the likely favorite with leading rider Paco Lopez from the one-hole.
Even leading riders make mistakes, and last Sunday in the Mr. Prospector Stakes at Monmouth, young Paco made a beaut.
Riding Florida shipper Ribo Bobo, the 2-5 favorite from the rail for Jason Servis, John’s kid brother, Lopez overtook the leader from the outside turning for home, and looked as home free as a 2-5 shot could.
But Paco then made a rookie mistake. He paused to take a long look over his left shoulder, and then shifted his weight to look over his right shoulder. Seeing nothing to worry about, Paco settled down for the easy ride home.
But Ribo Bobo had lost his momentum, and the 9-year-old Cherokee Artist, with Trevor McCarthy riding for David Jacobson, nailed him on the wire at a $20 mutuel.
One other Monmouth note:
All in the family: Claudio Gonzales, a Top Five trainer in his first meet at MP, is the nephew of Juan Serey, the top dog at the shore in his day.
Look for Paco to enjoy a big holiday weekend at Monmouth. He rides a slew of favorites, including Itsmyluckyday in the 150K Salvator Mile on Sunday.
Ninety minutes later, Jason Servis, obviously letting bygones be bygones, will give Lopez a leg up on Exclusive Strike in the 500K United Nations Handicap.
Meantime Mark Casse, known as the Todd Pletcher of Canada, and the stepson of OTB icon Linda Casse, will seek to pull off a lucrative stakes double on Sunday.
Casse will run Kaigun, fresh from a heartbreaking second at 16-1 in the Manhattan on the Belmont Stakes undercard (heartbreaking because we gave him out online at www.nationalracemasters.com and on the John Piesen Hot Line at 1-888-777-4155), looms a major player under Alan Garcia in the UN, and
runs an uncoupled three-horse entry in the $1 million Queen’s Plate at Woodbine: Majestic Sunset, Matador and the filly Lexie Lou.
And wouldn’t you know? The Toddster has the favorite, We Miss Artie, under Javier Castellano, from the six-hole in a field of 15 in the 10-furlong QP, known as the Kentucky Derby of Canada.
Looking for a price? Take a look at the late-running Tower of Texas, with Johnny Velasquez riding for Roger Attfield.
Not surprisingly, Castellano and Johnny V will play prominent roles in Saturday’s stakes-filled program at Belmont Park.
In order, the five stakes are: the 200K Dwyer (race four); the 400K Belmont Sprint
Championship (race six); the $1,250,000 Belmont Derby (race seven); the
500K Suburban (race eight), and the $1 million Belmont Oaks (race nine).
The two million-dollar races are Grade Ones; the others are one Grade Two, and two Grade Threes. The rain will be gone, and a good time will be had by all.
Tiz Dark, making only his third start for the Toddster-Johnny V combo, will be the one to catch and beat at a short price. The uncoupled entry of Captain Serious and two-time stakes-winner Kid Cruz are the main threats. Spot is the only graded stakes-winner in the field of six.
The Belmont Sprint:
The nine-horse race is so wide-open that Declan’s Warrior, the 2013 Bay Shore winner, is the rank outsider under Johnny V.
Clearly Now had a tough trip behind Central Banker in the Churchill Downs Sprint.
Salutos Amigos switches to Churchill champ Lanerie, who will be a Saratoga regular for the first time. Palace gets the outside trip for the red-hot Linda.
The Belmont Derby:
When Seattle Slew won this race in 1978 it was called the Jamaica Handicap, and the
purse was 60K. Now the race is the Belmont Derby, and the purse is
$1,250,000. The times how they have changed.
Of the 11 starters, five exit victories, and three exit seconds.
The four invaders—Toast of New York, (the everlovin) Adelaide, Gailo Chip and Pornichet—will dominate the wagering, but Bobby’s Kitten and Global View, one-two in the Penn National Mile, look formidable.
Last Gunfighter, second to Flat Out in this race last year, looks the one to beat in a wide-open field of 11. Javier rides for Chad Brown from post five.
Romansh gets in with a feathery 115 pounds, and will be closing widest and fastest. Moreno back on familiar terrain; time for a wakeup call.
The Belmont Oaks:
When Pure Clan won this five years back, it was known as the Garden City.
Room Service eyes fourth straight graded-stake (and third straight Grade One) for Wayne Catalano. Excellence looks best of the invaders.
My Conquistadory and the unbeaten Summer Solo will be overlays.
Otherwise, Shared Belief is very beatable as the chalk in the 500G Los Alamitos Derby, his first start since clinching the 2-year-old championship in the Cash Call Futurity last December.
Thanks for tuning in. Have a great holiday weekend, check out the Hot Line, go Buccos, and see you back here next Friday.