Sagamore's Monzon will run in the Belmont

Gelding missed Derby, Preakness, but is ready for final Triple Crown race

May 31, 2011|By Baltimore Sun staff

Sagamore Farm is back in a Triple Crown race. Monzon, bred at the Baltimore County farm, will run in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

Tom Mullikin, general manager at Sagamore Farm, said Tuesday that it has been the plan for about the last 2 1/2 months to run the gelding in the Belmont. Monzon (pronounced Mon-Zone) won the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 1, but struggled when shipped to Florida. Monzon last raced in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont on May 14, finishing sixth.

"When we won the stakes race, we starting dreaming big," Mullikin said. "We went to Florida, and he didn't care for it. But we've regrouped, missed the Derby and Preakness, and sent him to the Peter Pan as prep for Belmont.

"He's training well. We're swinging for the fences. Hopefully we can land a big blow."

Sagamore Farm was once home to Native Dancer, winner of the 1953 Preakness and Belmont stakes. Nicknamed the Gray Ghost, he is buried on the Glyndon property.

Monzon will ship to New York the night before or in early morning hours of Belmont race day, Mullikin said. In the Belmont, Monzon will face Derby winner and Preakness runner-up Animal Kingdom. Graham Motion, trainer of Animal Kingdom, also trains Sagamore Farm's Shared Account, winner of the $2 million Breeders Cup Fillies and Mare race in the fall.

"Belmont is always a test for champions," Mullikin said. "Mile and a half shouldn't pose a problem for Animal Kingdom. Hopefully, for our sake, we get a good trip and give him a run for money.

"We think very highly of Graham. He's definitely a part of our team. Hopefully, the animal gods are smiling on us and Monzon and Animal Kingdom are battling down the stretch — two horses with Maryland connections. It should be fun."

Jose Lezcano will have the mount on Monzon.

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