OCEANPORT – As much as trainer Brett Brinkman would like a definitive answer about whether his 3-year-old filly Cilla can turf or not, he won’t be disappointed if the featured $75,000 Blue Sparkler Stakes at Monmouth Park comes off the grass on July 10.
With heavy rains in the forecast for the area for July 9, the 5½-furlong dash that headlines an 11-race card on July 10 is facing the strong possibility of a surface switch, according to a press release from the thoroughbred track.
It’s actually one of the reasons Brinkman has entered Cilla.
Cilla has tried the grass just once in her eight career starts – in last year’s 1-mile Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park. It wound up as the worst showing of her career.
“We didn’t feel like she disliked the turf that day. We just felt like she never had a chance to run her race,” said Brinkman, who is based in Louisiana, but also keeps a small division at Delaware Park. “When she came into that race she was a bit inexperienced (in her third career start) from a racing standpoint. She has gotten a lot more experience since then.
“We kind of realized all she wants to do is sprint. She is a lot more forward filly than she was the last time she was at Monmouth, so we are going to roll the dice and see if she will turf. If it stays on and she doesn’t handle it then we will know it’s definite that she won’t turf.
“But it looks like it may come off. And if it does it plays toward us a little bit. The chance of it coming off played into our thinking.”
A daughter of California Chrome, and a half-brother to Jack the Umpire, who was second in the My Frenchman Stakes on the turf at Monmouth Park last year, Cilla has three wins and two thirds in her eight career starts, with two of her defeats coming in graded stakes company.
Following a sixth place finish in the Grade 3 Beaumont at Keeneland on April 2, she turned in a sharp effort in winning the Louisiana Legends Mademoiselle Stakes at Evangeline Downs by 4½ lengths in the slop.
She is 2-for-2 on off tracks.
“She loves the slop,” Brinkman said.
Brinkman said Cilla “finally produced her ‘A’ effort” in her most recent race, which produced a career-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure off a two-month layoff.
“I think she has a lot of ability,” Brinkman said. “We just have to buttonhole it a little bit, see exactly what her limitations are. We definitely know she has some distance limitations. So we will take a shot and see and hopefully she gets to run her race.”
The 28th edition of the Blue Sparkler has attracted a field of nine, as well as two MTO entrants.