OCEANPORT – Pirate’s Punch and Ny Traffic took turns with impressive performances a year ago at Monmouth Park. Now they will match their considerable talents in the same race at the track.
Pirate’s Punch, idle since the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 7, and Ny Traffic, who made his return to racing on May 2, top a field of 10 for the Grade 3, $150,000 Salvator Mile, the headliner on Monmouth Park’s June 12 card, according to a press release.
When last seen at Monmouth Park, Pirate’s Punch won the Salvator Mile in 2020 – a race after being disqualified from a victory in the Grade 3 Iselin Stakes.
Ny Traffic was second in last year’s Grade 1 TVG.com Haskell Stakes, beaten a nose by 2020 Horse of the Year Authentic.
Rounding out the Salvator Mile field are Bal Harbour, Basin, Croatian, Galerio, Green Light Go, Informative, War Stopper and West Will Power.
A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred, Pirate’s Punch needed surgery to remove a chip from one of his knees shortly after the Breeders’ Cup, with trainer Grant Forster now eager to get him started on his 2021 campaign.
“After his surgery we took our time with him and did the proper rehab. Hopefully we have a foundation in him,” said Forster. “He’s doing fantastic. He seems like he’s a bigger, stronger horse this year.
“Since we put him back in training he hasn’t missed a day of training, hasn’t missed a work, hasn’t missed a gallop. He has been ultra-consistent and we think we have him ready to run and ready to get back in the game and get going.”
The 4-year-old Ny Traffic, in his first race since the 2020 Preakness Stakes on Oct. 3, impressed in his 2021 debut, blazing to a 6¾-length victory in an allowance optional claimer at Belmont Park on May 2.
“He came back in a big way. He won emphatically,” said trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. “We were hoping he would win, but we never envisioned he would run like that in his first race back after seven months off.
“It’s a long year and he has a lot in front of him. We are hoping this race can be a building block for the year.”
Ny Traffic, a son of Cross Traffic-Mamie Reilly by Graeme Hall, has a 3-3-2 line from 12 career starts, with lifetime earnings of $612,220. Despite that, he has yet to win a graded stakes race.
“He came close (in last year’s) Haskell,” said Joseph. “He definitely has a graded stakes win in him. Hopefully it’s this year – and maybe this weekend.”
Ny Traffic is owned by John Fanelli, Cash is King LLC, LC Racing, Paul Braverman and Team Hanley.
Pirate’s Punch, a son of of Shanghai Bobby-Catch the Moon by Malibu Moon, sports a 5-3-4 line from 18 career starts with $332,751 in earnings. He is owned by Gulliver Racing LLC, Craig W. Drager and Dan Lehan.
June 12 marks the 74th running of the Salvator Mile.
Monmouth Park’s biggest handicapping contest of the year, with 18 seats to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) and four to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) at stake, will take place June 12, during the $2,000 Pick Your Prize Handicapping Challenge.
Contestants can play on-site or through TVG/4NJBETS or Xpressbet.
The available NHC and BCBC seats, as well as an estimated prize pool of $200,000, are based on 200 entries, according to the press release.
The contest is limited to Monmouth Park races only, with wagering required on a minimum of five races and at least $200 per race. Wagers are limited to win, place, show or exactas.
Cost of the contest is $2,000, with $1,000 going to the prize pool and $1,000 for wagering.
For more information or to pre-register contact Brian Skirka at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 732-571-6595.
Monmouth Park will also host a $500 NHC Qualifier on June 13, with $12,000 in cash prizes and four NHC prize packs available, based on 125 entries.
The June 13 contest consists of races from Monmouth, Belmont Park and Gulfstream and registration is available on-site only, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Clubhouse first floor (cash only). There is no pre-registration on June 13.
Wagering is limited to win, place or show only, with a minimum of $25 per race and a minimum of 10 races bet (five of which must be Monmouth Park races).