By Tom LaMarra
Page McKenney, who thus far haven’t missed a race in his respective MATCH Series division, will seek to bolster his position in the standings when the series returns to Monmouth Park July 29.
The grade III, $150,000 Monmouth Cup (3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt Division) and the $75,000 Wolf Hill Stakes (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Turf Division) are among seven stakes on a 14-race Sunday program featuring the grade I, $1 million Haskell Invitational. The Monmouth Cup is the eighth race and the Wolf Hill the 11th race.
Adam Staple and Jalin Stable’s Page McKenney, the 8-year-old Pennsylvania-bred gelding who has earned almost $2 million in 57 starts, tops his MATCH division with 17 points and is the only one of six entrants in the Monmouth Cup with a start in the series. It will be his third divisional start, which will qualify him for bonus money.
Page McKenney’s 17 points have him tied in the overall MATCH Series standings with Sycamore Racing V’s Jessica Krupnick, the current leader of the Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division.
Trained by Mary Eppler, Page McKenney won the grade III Salvator Mile and finished second in the grade III Philip H. Iselin Stakes, both at Monmouth. He is scheduled to face Jeral Keith Adams’ Remembering Rita, who won the grade III Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows in his last start, and 2017 Long Branch Stakes winner Phat Man, who in his only start this year won an allowance race at Churchill Downs in late June.
The Monmouth Cup is the longest race in the division at 1 1/8 miles. Page McKenney has four wins, five seconds and two thirds in 12 starts at the distance.
By Tom LaMarra
Colts Neck Stables’ Name Changer made his MATCH Series debut a winning one in the grade III, $150,000 Monmouth Cup at Monmouth Park July 29.
It was the first graded stakes win for the 5-year-old Uncle Mo horse and second stakes tally overall in 15 starts for trainer Alan Goldberg. Name Changer earned 10 points in the MATCH Series 3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt Division and is now tied for second with Harlan Punch, winner of the grade III Philip H. Iselin Stakes, second leg of the five-race division.
Division leader Page McKenney remains on top with 22 points, which includes the five he picked up for finishing third in the Monmouth Cup. He also qualified for MATCH bonus money with his third start in the division.
Name Changer, ridden by Jose Ortiz, rated just off a moderate early pace before making a bid for the lead on the far turn. He was able to hold off a stubborn Zanotti, who rallied from near the back of the six-horse field in the 1 1/8-mile race. The winning margin was a half-length.
Name Changer covered the distance in 1:49.56 on a track rated fast and returned $10.40 to win. He entered the Monmouth Cup off of an even third-place finish in the July 14 Carl Hanford Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park, but Goldberg indicated he expected a better effort that afternoon.
“In his last race, I was a little surprised,” he said. “They went fast early (and he didn’t close into it), so it was a head-scratcher. But everything was good. Today, I thought he would be farther back early, but the horse has been breaking from the gate better this year.”
Page McKenney, who sat in fourth, made a bid on the far turn but couldn’t get closer than 5 1/2 lengths behind the leader. He earned $15,000 in purse money to move a bit closer to the $2 million earnings mark and is the only horse thus far to qualify for MATCH bonus cash in the 3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Division.