With Joe Bravo providing the perfect ground-saving ride, Big Blue Kitten shot up the rail in deep stretch and galloped out to a length and a quarter victory in Saturday's 62nd running of the $500,000 United Nations Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park.
In the days other feature, longshot Raging Daoust was up at the wire to take the $150,000 Salvator Mile by a nose, one of the winners that contributed to the Jersey Shore 6 being hit for $161,490.36.
Big Blue Kitten, owned by Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey and trained by Chad Brown, paid $7, $3.40 and $2.80 across the board as second choice in the United Nations. He stopped the timer in 2:11 4/5 for the mile and three-eighths over a firm turf course.
Teaks North, who tried for the lead in mid-stretch, had to settle for second, one length ahead of Hangover Kid, a 47-1 shot. Little Mike, last year's Breeders' Cup Turf winner, set all the pace to deep stretch as the 8-5 favorite, but backed up in the final sixteenth to finish fourth.
Teaks North completed the $46.80 exacta and paid $6.80 to place and $4.60 to show. Hangover Kid returned $8.40 to show.
Big Blue Kitten, a 5-year-old by Kitten's Joy, earned $300,000 for his victory, bringing his lifetime total to $698,530. In June, he ran second, beaten a length and a quarter in the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes on the grass here.
Chad Brown, who watched the race on television at his Belmont Park barn, was quick to credit the rider for his part in the big victory.
“Another memorable ride from Joe Bravo,” Brown said. “That was one for his highlight reel. I had so much confidence in Joe riding this horse. I came down when he ran at Monmouth last out, and Joe told me if he knew this horse a little bit more he would have probably won that one.
“After his last race, Joe really sold me on giving the United Nations some consideration,” Brown said. “I spoke with Joe this morning and pretty much left it up to him. He had so much confidence in our chances when we spoke today.”
Bravo was all smiles in the winner's circle.
“It's amazing how much you can learn from one race,” he said. “Looking back, we could have won that last one (Monmouth Stakes), but I took what I learned there and used it today. Little Mike came off the rail just a little in the stretch and we were able to get through.”
Little Mike was coming off two losing races in Dubai. He went right to the front today, but gave up the lead at the eighth pole as Big Blue Kitten and Teaks North came running by.
The 66th running of the Salvator Mile (G3) provided a thrilling finish as Raging Daoust got up in the final stride to nose out the front-running Big Sur.
Raging Daoust, a 4-year-old owned by James Costabile Jr. and Ronald Juliano and trained by Charles (Buddy) Carlesimo Jr., lit up the tote board with his first graded stakes victory, returning $69, $22.80 and $6.80 across the board.
Big Sur, who led every step of the one-mile trip but the last, completed the $420.60 exacta as he paid $15.20 to place and $5.80 to show.
Csaba, sent off the second choice in the field of eight at 2-1, paid $2.80 to show as he finished three lengths behind the embattled leaders. Discreet Dancer, the even-money favorite, finished fourth.
Victor Santiago rode Raging Daoust, who affirmed his love of the Monmouth Park main track by winning for the sixth time in seven tries after stopping the timer in 1:36 4/5 over a fast track. He earned a winner's prize of $90,000 for his first graded stakes score, sending his lifetime bankroll to $273,203. The gelding by Kafwain suffered his only Monmouth loss when he ran fifth in the slop on May 11 in the Decathlon Stakes.
“I was pointing him for this race since we got here,” Carlesimo said. “It all worked out according to plan. I told the rider to sit behind the speed and angle him out turning for home. That's exactly how it happened. I think he's a perfect miler.”
Big Sur grabbed the lead right out of the gate. Raging Daoust was mid-pack until the backstretch, when he moved to second. The leader came into the stretch with a clear margin, but Santiago angled Raging Daoust off the rail and set sail for the wire. He got up to win the photo in the final stride.
“I wanted to use his natural speed to get a good position,” Santiago said. “I knew once I got my horse to the outside he had plenty of run and he wasn't going to stop.”
The Jersey Shore 6, which requires the bettor to pick six winners and to have the only ticket on the winning combination, was hit on the Saturday card. The wager, new to Monmouth Park this year, paid $161,490.36. The winning ticket was played at a betting outlet in Maine.
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