First off the van for Servis was Huntingcoco, escorted by stablehand Alvarez Aguilar. (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)
Servis Trio Are First Arrivals At Monmouth Park As Stable Area Opens In Advance Of May 13 Opener
Tom Luicci/Monmouth Park
OCEANPORT, N.J. – With 18 horses scheduled to be bedded down at Monmouth Park for the upcoming 51-day meet, veteran trainer John Servis got off to an early start when a van transporting three of his runners was the first to arrive when the stable area officially opened at 6 a.m. on Friday.
The trio made the trip from the Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Fla., with Huntingcoco, a 3-year-old filly, the first to step foot on the backstretch after being offloaded.
Monmouth Park’s 78th season runs from Saturday, May 13, through Sunday, Sept. 10. First race post time on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays will be 12:40 p.m. Friday racing, which starts in June, will have a 2 p.m. first post time.
Servis’ increased presence on the backside this year adds to a stellar roster of trainers that includes a trio of Hall of Famers – Todd Pletcher, Jerry Hollendorfer and Shug McGaughey, who will have a division at Monmouth Park for the first time. Chad Brown will have strong representation once again, as will last year’s leading trainer, Claudio Gonzalez.
Three-time leading trainer Kelly Breen heads an impressive group of returnees that includes Jorge Delgado, Gerald Bennett, Gregg Sacco, Chuck Spina, Juan Carlos Avila, Tim Hills, Pat McBurney, Kent Sweezey, Jose Delgado, Jessie Cruz, Rory Huston, Kathleen Demasi, Mike Dini, Jose Camejo, Kathleen O’Connell and Tony Wilson.
Ben Perkins, Jr. will be returning with a string as well.
In the jockeys’ room, Paco Lopez will be looking to notch his 10th riding title. Only Joe Bravo, with 13, has more in track history.
Chantal Sutherland and Lane Luzzi are among the new additions to the riding colony.
The meet, which features a stakes schedule worth more than $7.7 million, is again headlined by the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Stakes on July 22. Four graded stakes support the Haskell Day card, including the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes, which carries a $600,000 purse.
Overall, there are 48 stakes races scheduled – 10 graded events.