OCEANPORT, N.J. — After a successful year in the allowance and optional claiming ranks in 2020 and two off-the-board efforts in Grade 3 company, trainer Claudio Gonzalez hopes he has found a happy medium for his 4-year-old filly Landing Zone.
It’s Sunday’s $100,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes, which tops an 11-race card at Monmouth Park.
“She earned the chance to try the Grade 3 races after what she did last year,” said Gonzalez. “She’s a good filly. But this is the kind of stakes race that should a good spot for her.”
The 33rd running of the Lady’s Secret, at a mile and a sixteenth for fillies and mares 3 and up, has attracted a field of eight, including two from Chad Brown’s barn and the speedy Gibberish, trained by Saffie Joseph Jr.
A winner of five of 11 starts last year, with two seconds and a third, Landing Zone has yet to find the winner’s circle in 2021. Her most recent start was a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Allaire DuPont Distaff Match Series at Pimlico on May 14.
“She ran without Lasix in that race but we will have her back on Lasix for this race,” said Gonzalez. “From post one hopefully she will be with the early leaders. There’s some speed in there but she should be close to the pace or on the lead.
“And I think the mile and a sixteenth is her best distance.”
Landing Zone, a daughter of Morning Line-Lunar Landing by El Corredor, has two wins and two seconds from four career starts at a mile and a sixteenth. Overall, she sports a 6-8-3 line from 23 lifetime starts.
Gonzalez, stabled at Monmouth Park for the first time in eight years, has gotten off to what he called “an okay” start, with two winners, three seconds and a third after the first four days of the meet. He has won or shared 16 training titles in Maryland, leading the state in wins each of the past four years.
“The start here has been good. Nothing special yet,” said Gonzalez. “We’ve had quite a few run second or third so I am expecting them to come back good, especially on fast tracks.
“For me, I am just happy to be back at Monmouth Park. I started here. It’s my home. I started here as an exercise rider in 1996 and it seems like there are a lot of people still here that I know well.”
Gonzalez has 39 horses stabled at Monmouth. Landing Zone, owned by BB Horses, does her best running on or close to the lead, but Gibberish looks as if she will set the early fractions for Joseph. She is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Ruffian at Belmont Park on May 2.
Brown will send out Altaf, a winner of two of three lifetime starts who is trying stakes company for the first time, and Velvet Crush. The latter is also seeking her first stakes victory, having tried Grade 1 company in the Coaching Club Oaks last year to no avail.
Tickets for TVG.COM Haskell Stakes go on sale Sunday
Tickets for the TVG.com Haskell Stakes, the centerpiece of the Monmouth Park Thoroughbred meet, will go on sale starting this Sunday, June 6, at 11:30 a.m.
The 54th edition of the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes will be run on Saturday, July 17. The $1 million race for 3-year-olds is one of five graded stakes that day, including the Grade 1 United Nations.
When Haskell Stakes Day tickets go on sale, they will be available for purchase at www.seatgeek.com/monmouth or, on live racing days only, by calling 732-571-5563. Haskell tickets will also be available for purchase at the Reserved Seats booth on the second floor of the Grandstand on live racing days.
Admission on Haskell Day is $20 for the Grandstand and $30 for the Clubhouse.
Self-parking is $20 that day.
A Dining Club buffet is available for $200, while reservations in the Lady’s Secret Café (with a pre-fixed menu) are $125. The picnic area buffet will cost $50.
Monmouth Park’s 53-day meet gets underway today and runs through Sunday, Sept. 26. Parking and admission are free all other days.
Box seats for parties of four, six and eight people are also available in the Clubhouse and Grandstand for Haskell Day. They range from $240 to $640 for a box for eight people in the Clubhouse.
Seats in the Grand Mezzanine 1 & 2 are available for $50 and in the Grandstand Mezzanine 3 through 5F for $45.
Grandstand Balcony 6 tickets are available for $35, Grandstand Balcony 7 through 9 tickets go for $40 and Grandstand Balcony 10 through 18 seats are $35.
All tickets include admission.
First race post time on Haskell Day is noon.
Monmouth Park Press Release