Trombetta hoping Mr Jefferson takes next step in Pegasus Stakes


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OCEANPORT – Trainer Michael Trombetta heads into the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park on June 18 with a colt who has only hinted at wanting to belong with the top 3-year-olds. Now, he says, it’s time to see if Mr Jefferson will be movin’ on up.

Third in his last start in the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard on May 21 after a near-miss in the Federico Tesio Stakes, Mr Jefferson will be one of nine 3-year-olds looking to jump-start their campaigns in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Pegasus Stakes, one of four stakes races on Monmouth Park’s inaugural Haskell Stakes Preview Day, according to a press release.

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The 14-race card will be headlined by the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes for fillies and mares, 3 and up, going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf; the Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf; and the Grade 3 Salvator Mile, where Hot Rod Charlie will make his first start back since finishing second in the Dubai World Cup on March 26.

Though the Pegasus is the only one of the four stakes races not graded, it serves as the local prep for the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes on July 23. The winner receives free entry and start fees to Monmouth Park’s showcase race next month.

“We are trying to see how good of a horse he is,” said Trombetta. “He has painted himself into a corner as a 3-year-old that has to run in stakes races. We are trying to find a way where he can take that next step from being stakes placed to winning stakes races.”

Mr Jefferson’s situation is similar to that of his competition.

Trainer Ken McPeek is back with Dash Attack, who won the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park at May 14 after three off-the-board finishes in graded stakes company.

Trainer Brad Cox, who is planning to send Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife to the Haskell Stakes, will look to add another starter in the $1 million race with Home Brew. He won the Oaklawn Stakes in his last start on April 23.

Chad Brown will be represented in the race by Electability, who was third in the Grade 3 Peter Pan in his most recent start.

Mr Jefferson, owned by R. Larry Johnson, fits in with the group, having been competitive in stakes company.

“I hope this race is the start of something for him,” said Trombetta. “I don’t know if he will get to any major league stuff, but we are going to keep trying and go wherever it takes us.”

Mr Jefferson showed signs of promise in his last start at 2 when he was fourth in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct behind future Belmont Stakes winner Mo Donegal and Zandon.

“He ran pretty good in the Remsen. He just didn’t have continuity after that,” said Trombetta. “He caught two off tracks in New York after that race and went off form, but now he has circled back around and he is running the way I think he is capable of running.”

Though Mr Jefferson was third in the Sir Barton, Trombetta said that race was better than it looked on paper for the Maryland-bred son of Constitution-Clockstrucktwelve by Malibu Moon.

“I think it was a good race considering the bias that day that was speed favoring,” said Trombetta. “For him to close and get third was pretty good. His last two races have been solid and we are pretty happy with him.

“But these are the type of races he has to prove he can win so he can get a chance at bigger ones.”

The four stakes will go as the final four races on the June 18 card and will be part of an all-stakes Pick 4. First race post time is 12:15 p.m.

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