OCEANPORT – Trainer William Morey didn’t get anywhere near the result he was looking for when he made his first trip to Monmouth Park on July 16, but that isn’t stopping him from making a return visit this weekend.
Morey, who has divisions in Kentucky and at Saratoga, will send out Shotgun Hottie in Sunday’s Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, with the Kentucky-bred daughter coming off a near miss in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks in her last start.
It was almost two weeks ago that Morey visited Monmouth Park for the first time in a training career that began in 2001, finishing fifth with Marissa’s Lady in the Blue Sparkler Stakes.
He’s back again with Shotgun Hottie, a daughter of Gun Runner-Re Entry by Malibu Moon, who lost by a head to Midnight Stroll in the Delaware Oaks.
“It was a good race,” he said of the Delaware Oaks. “It was an exciting race. It looked like we were going to win, but the winner ran a very good race. They were a head apart at the wire. Both fillies raced super.”
The 98th edition of the Monmouth Oaks, which carries a purse of $250,000, may be an even tougher challenge, perhaps the biggest one yet for Shotgun Hottie.
Brad Cox is expected to start Grade 1 winner Juju’s Map, Todd Pletcher is sending out Mother Goose runner-up Shahama and Ken McPeek has entered Indiana Oaks runner-up Runaway Wife.
Morey only took over the training duties for Shotgun Hottie this year and she has responded with a win in the Ruthless Stakes, a second in the Busher Stakes and a third in the Grade 3 Gazelle Stakes, all at Aqueduct. She followed that with the near miss in the Delaware Oaks.
“Those fillies are a little more accomplished than we are right now,” said Morey. “But she’s sharp right now and training well and it’s a good time to take a chance again against this caliber of fillies.”
Owned by Omar Aldabbagh and Jeff Ganje, Shotgun Hottie sports a 2-3-1 line from eight career starts with earnings of $269,720.
She is training well enough that Morey is bringing her back in four weeks.
“The timing is actually good,” Morey said. “She had three months off before her first start this year. Coming back in one month this time is perfect. She is really consistent. We would just like to get another ‘W’ on the ledger with her.”
Morey said he shipped and ran horses at Monmouth Park several years ago when he kept a division at Delaware Park, but the July 16 appearance was the first time he had physically been to the Jersey Shore track.
“We are looking forward to coming back,” he said. “Hopefully we will have a better result this time.”