Maker Brings a Trio to G1 United Nations

July 20, 2023

Grade 1-winning 9YO Red Knight is one of three Maker trainees entered in the United Nations (NYRA/Coglianese)

By Lynne Snierson – Monmouth Park

OCEANPORT, N.J.— Trainer Mike Maker, who is known for his proficiency with turf runners, holds a strong hand in the 70th running of the Grade 1, $600,000 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park on Saturday as he seeks his third victory in the 1 3/8ths miles marathon over the grass course.

Maker, who won the U.N. with Aquaphobia in 2020 and Bigger Picture in 2017, sends out three of the 10 horses in the field with Grade 1 winner Red Knight, Therapist, and Yamato. They figure to face a still challenge from Catnip, who comes from the barn of Mike Stidham.

Catnip, a son of Kitten’s Joy who will carry the colors of Susan and John Moore, has won his last three races, including a hard-fought score in the Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park on June 17 in his most recent effort. Joel Rosario has been awarded the return call.

Of the Maker trio, Red Knight appears to be the most dangerous. Two starts back he captured the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park at the identical distance of the United Nations.

Tyler Gaffalione, who piloted him to a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan at Belmont last time out, will be back aboard.

Another threat is the Planetario (BRZ), who will be saddled by Richard Mandella and ridden by Mike Smith, both Hall of Famers in their respective categories.

Mandella is looking to repeat history with the five-year-old winner of the 1¾ miles San Juan Capistrano (G3) at Santa Anita in his previous effort. Mandella won the United Nations with the Brazilian-bred Sandpit in back-to-back editions in 1995 and 1996.

The United Nations is part of Saturday’s strong undercard, which is highlighted by the 56th edition of the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Stakes for 3-year-olds. Supporting graded stakes on the undercard are the $500,000, Grade 3 Molly Pitcher with a field of eight fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the main track; the $300,000, Grade 3 WinStar Matchmaker for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the grass, and the $400,000, Grade 3 Monmouth Cup at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt.

The Monmouth Cup attracted a field of seven, including the Mike Stidham-trained Proxy. The Godolphin homebred and Grade 1 winner took the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in April and last time out finished a disappointing eighth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs after a trouble-filled trip that compromised all chance for him.

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