Opening Day at Monmouth Features $100K Long Branch

May 10, 2023

Didinger shakes loose to a 13-length maiden score Oct. 18 (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

Monmouth Park Press Release

OCEANPORT, N.J.— Butch Reid isn’t sure what the coming year has in store for a couple of under-the-radar 3-year-olds he has but the veteran trainer knows it’s time to start finding out exactly where they fit in.

To that end, he will send out Didinger and Ninetyprcentmaddie in Saturday’s $100,000 Long Branch Stakes, which serves as the opening day feature race as Monmouth Park’s 51-day meet gets underway. The 87th edition of the Long Branch Stakes, at a mile and 70 yards, is restricted to 3-year-olds.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to run both. I hate doing that, but it’s the right spot for both of them,” said the Parx-based Reid. “We need to find out what direction to go with them. It’s all part of the stepping-stone process. I think they’re two quality horses that we’re going to have a lot of fun with the rest of the year,”

Didinger, a $230,000 yearling purchase owned by Cash is King and LC Racing, comes in off a 5½-length romp in an optional claimer at Parx on March 27 in his 3-year-old debut. He showed hints of his potential at 2, with a win, three seconds and a third from five starts.

“He’s a horse that we always knew had a ton of talent but it took him a while to put it all together,” Reid said. “He had a nice little break after his 2-year-old campaign and it seems to have paid off with the way he came back. He’s coming up to this race really well.”

A Kentucky-bred son of Bold d’Oro-Gwithian by Street Sense, Didinger seems to be relishing the longer distances. If the colt lives up to his potential, Reid sees the Haskell and the Pennsylvania Derby on Didinger’s radar.

“I don’t think there are any limits to what this horse can do,” Reid said.

Ninetyprcentmaddie dominates the City of Brotherly Love under Paco Lopez (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

Ninetyprcentmaddie, an LC Racing homebred, comes in off two sharp efforts, winning the City of Brotherly Love Stakes at Parx by 9¾ lengths and then finishing second, beaten a head, in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel on April 15. The Shug McGaughey Perform, who won the Tesia with a late rush, is under consideration as a supplemental entry to the Preakness Stakes.

Ninetyprcentmaddie, a Pennsylvania-bred son of Weigelia-Amblin Easy by Private Interview, has four wins and two seconds from eight career starts. The only poor performance of his career came in the Grade 3 Withers on Feb. 11 when he was distanced.

“He didn’t ship good that day and we learned from that,” said Reid. “He was kind of sulking. Mentally, he was just lost that day. He’s a young colt and sometimes the biggest hurdle to overcome with them is the mental part.

“But he shipped well to Pimlico in his last start and ran a great race. I know Shug McGaughey thinks a lot of the winner that day. One of the reasons I like this spot for him is because it’s an easy ship to Monmouth Park. He shouldn’t be put off of his game.”

A field of eight has entered the Long Branch Stakes, including the Ken McPeek-trained Hayes Strike, who was off the board in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes in his most recent start. He won the Private Terms at Laurel prior to that.

First race post time Saturday is 12:40 p.m. That will be the post time for Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays throughout the meet that runs until Sept. 10. When Friday racing is added in June first race post time for those days will be 2 p.m.

@jonathanstettin great read as always!

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