By: Kenny Peck
The $60,000 Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sunday seems to center around Earth. But trainer Wesley Ward could have Earth surrounded.
Earth, who will break from post 3 under Eddie Castro, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite for the Tyro, the ninth of 10 races on the card. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt was a game winner in his debut at Gulfstream, sitting off a duel and running down the pacesetter late, and that proven rating ability should come in handy in the Tyro, which features several possible speeds.
The Tyro, at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf, drew a field of seven, but that includes the main-track-only entrant Nuclear Option, one of three from Ward’s barn, giving the veteran conditioner another option if the Tyro is switched to the dirt. Ward is also represented by Hemp Hemp Hurray, who is coupled in the wagering with Nuclear Option, and the uncoupled Zodacious, a filly who was cross-entered in Saturday’s Colleen Stakes.
Hemp Hemp Hurray is the colt who likely will be the main threat to Earth. The son of Artie Schiller comes off a front-running score in his debut at Belmont, going six furlongs on the grass, and with a quick break from his rail post, he could prove tough to catch in the Tyro. Albin Jimenez will ride.
Coop Tries Harder comes into the Tyro with grass experience, having won his maiden over the Delaware Park turf course in his latest try, albeit in a two-turn race going 7 1/2 furlongs. Antonio Gallardo will ride Coop Tries Harder for trainer Jane Cibelli.
Nickie’s Papa and Phonemyposseagain, a pair of geldings making their first starts on turf, round out the field. Nickie’s Papa is still a maiden but comes off a decent try when second at Indiana Grand for trainer Joan Scott, who has three wins from 13 starters (23 percent, $2.35 return on investment) in ungraded turf-sprint stakes going back five years.
Phonemyposseagain has shown good speed in all three of his starts, including his latest, when he wired New Jersey-bred maidens under Jose Ferrer. The veteran jockey, third in the Monmouth Park standings, retains the mount for trainer Chuck Spina.
Post time for the Tyro is 4:57 p.m. Eastern.