OCEANPORT – Whenever trainer Mike Dini needs a pick-me-up for himself or for the 6-year-old mare Bramble Bay he simply waits for the Jersey Girl Handicap to surface on the Monmouth Park stakes schedule.
It came up on July 9 and the results were predictable.
Bramble Bay, who won the Jersey Girl Handicap two years ago and was second, beaten a head, in the race last year, scored an easy one-and-a-quarter-length victory in the $85,000 feature on Monmouth Park’s Saturday program, according to a press release.
Ridden by Paco Lopez, Bramble Bay sat third on the rail behind the early pace-setter Roselba, then surged past the front-runner coming out of the turn in the 1-mile grass event for Jersey-bred fillies and mares 3 and up to earn her seventh career grass win.
The daughter of Bullet Train, owned and bred by Ballybrit Stable, has a 7-6-4 line from 23 career grass starts. She is 0 for 7 on the dirt, including a pair of losses in Jersey-bred dirt stakes races her past two starts.
The winning time was 1:36.18
“We have been waiting for a race on the grass here,” said Dini. “At times she looks like she can run on the dirt, which is why we tried her in Jersey-bred dirt stakes her past two starts, but she is at her best by far on the grass.
“This was a perfect spot for her, the grass, the distance, everything. I may send her back here next year just for this race.”
Bramble Bay returned $3.00 to win as the 1-2 favorite in the field of seven, which was reduced by one following the gate scratch of Princess Georgia.
With Roselba leading the way through fractions of :22.98, :45.91 and 1:11.96 for the opening six furlongs over the firm going, Lopez waited patiently, never far off the leader.
Coming out of the final turn, Lopez slipped Bramble Bay to the outside of Roselba, with Perspicacious coming three-wide.
But Perspicacious flattened out and Bramble Bay went on, with I’m Listening closing for second, two-and-one-quarter lengths ahead of Roselba.
“I really was in a perfect positon,” said Lopez, the meet’s leading rider. “I didn’t want to be as close as I was early on, but she pulled me there. When I asked her she really responded. She is a nice horse to ride and a very nice mare.
“Coming out of the turn I didn’t want to take a chance going up the rail and get maybe stuck or in trouble so I took her outside of (Roselba) and she went by easily. She was much the best coming into race and she showed that.”