The Grade 1, $300,000 United Nations Stakes will be run for the 62nd time this Sunday at Monmouth Park. Contested over a mile and three-eighths, it serves as a prestigious stepping stone to major summer races like the Sword Dancer and Arlington Million for many of the nation’s top turf performers.
Chad Brown holds a strong hand in this race, having entered three runners, including the morning line favorite Wake Forest (#3), who is the only Grade 1 winner in the race, fresh off his victory in the Man O’ War at Belmont Park. His other two entrants are Mr Maybe (#5), winner of last fall’s Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap, and Money Multiplier (#8), second to his stablemate in the Man O’ War. Also very much in the mix is World Approval (#4), who most recently hit the board in two Grade 1 events, the Turf Classic at Churchill Down on Kentucky Derby day and the Manhattan on Belmont Stakes day.
The Pace Projector is predicting that one-dimensional frontrunner Cement Clement (#2) will assume his customary position at the head of affairs and lead these through the opening furlongs. The tactical World Approval (#4) is expected to be racing in second in the early going, while Chad Brown’s trio will linger at the back of the pack.
Let’s take a look at the field:
#1, Can’thelpbelieving (8/1): He’s never won a stakes race, but he served notice that he may be an improved animal when he performed so well when third in the Grade 1 Man O’ War last time. That day, he was put in the difficult position of having to chase two horses that ran off in the early going. In the stretch, he reached a contending position, but ultimately was just not good enough. On the plus side, he likes this distance, drew a great post position down towards the rail, and picks up longtime Monmouth Park leading rider Joe Bravo. We prefer a couple of others, but will use him defensively, since he should be a fair price.
#2, Cement Clement (20/1): The projected early leader has never run this far before and is unproven against graded stakes-level competition, let alone Grade 1 company. He should take them a long way up front, but we doubt he’ll still be around when the real running starts.
#3, Wake Forest (5/2): Of Chad Brown’s three entrants, this is the one that most people will prefer. However, we don’t want to give him too much credit for being the only Grade 1 winner in this race because that was not exactly the strongest Grade 1 field that has been run in his division. One could make similar points about this race, but we think he’s facing a slightly tougher field here. Wake Forest got pretty lucky to find a seam through which to unleash his stretch run that day, and did put in an eye-catching late burst of speed once clear. John Velazquez rides him well, and he figures to be right there at the end, but we think a few others may offer better value.
#4, World Approval (3/1):
He’s perhaps the classiest horse in the race, having finished in the money in two of the deepest fields of U. S. turf performers assembled this year when he was second in the Turf Classic and third in the Manhattan. He’s obviously taken a step forward as a four-year-old and his tactical running style should have him sitting in perfect position to take over from Cement Clement once that one surrenders the lead. The major question is whether or not he can see out the mile and three-eighths, since he was getting a little tired at the end of a mile and a quarter last time despite having set a slow pace (color-coded in blue). In many ways, he’s the horse to beat, but the stamina questions are preventing us from pulling the trigger.
#5, Mr Maybe (4/1): We’re not sure what to make of this guy. It appeared that he was on the precipice of becoming Chad Brown’s next turf star after his impressive last-to-first victory in the Red Smith last fall. However, he disappointed at less than 2/1 odds when third in the Mac Diarmida last time, and has now been off for four months since then. It’s a good sign to see Irad Ortiz back on him and he apparently loves this distance. Ultimately, the price will determine how we use this gelding, and we would need slightly better than his 4/1 morning line odds to support him in this spot.
#6, Triple Threat (6/1): Speaking of value, this horse would offer none at his 6/1 morning line odds. He lost the Manhattan by only five lengths, but that was a race that featured a very slow pace, which often brings fields together to some extent. He’s proven to be a cut below the best horses in this division and seems to be in need of a slight drop in class.
#7, Noble Road (30/1): He’s never run nearly fast enough to win this race and is unproven at the distance. We’ll pass.
#8, Money Multiplier (8/1):
We believe that this is the most interesting horse in the race. While we’re not in love with the Man O’ War from a field-quality perspective, we feel that this runner ran the best race last time. He was very keen in the early going and dragged Irad Ortiz up towards the lead, engaging the frontrunner while drawing off from the rest of the field by some six lengths on the backstretch. That horse, Go Around, that he was dueling with faded badly in the stretch, but Money Multiplier kept running on and finished a strong second while pulling away from Can’thelpbelieving late. This son of Lookin at Lucky ran some strong races as a three-year-old and may just be finding his stride at age four. He’s likely to go off at the highest price of the three Chad Brown runners, and we think he’s good enough to win this race.
#9, Bigger Picture (15/1): He’s overachieved in two starts off the claim for Mike Maker, but he’s taking a huge step up in class. His prior two wins came in races that received race ratings of 107 and 108, a far cry from the preliminary rating of 123 assigned to this race.
#10, Riviere Du Loup (15/1): Until recently, this horse was running in conditioned claiming races. He’s obviously improved this year, but he’s never raced farther than a mile and a sixteenth. It’s usually not ideal for a horse to be trying something new in his graded stakes debut. He’s up against it.
Money Multiplier (#8) signaled that he’s in great form with his excellent performance in the Man O’ War last time, and we believe he will offer the best value at odds of around 6/1 or greater.
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 1,3,4,5
8 with 1,3,4,5 with 1,3,4,5
1,3,4 with 8 with 1,3,4,5