OCEANSIDE, NJ – Trainer Mike Maker’s Aquaphobia was well-placed early and had more than enough left late to score the upset in Saturday’s $300,000 United Nations Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park.
Aquaphobia broke from post 5 under Joe Bravo at 10/1 odds and sat just off the pace in third as the field entered the far turn for the first time. Paret set the pace as expected, posting fractions of :24.50, :48.90, 1:14.41, and 1:38.48 through the opening mile.
Inching forward along the rail in his second passage through the far turn, Aquaphobia tipped off a lane at the top of the stretch and deployed his best effort between the pacesetter and an advancing Corelli.
Paret fought hard to keep his waning lead in the stretch, but Aquaphobia surged ahead at the 1/16 pole and crossed 1 length clear in a final time of 2:12.63 for the 1 3/8-mile firm turf event.
“Joe Bravo rode him beautifully,” Maker said. “We had a lot of confidence in the horse coming in and he didn’t let us down. He’s run a mile and 1/4 in the past and he was successful, but he hasn’t had the opportunity to go that long or longer again. We felt this horse was better than we were getting out of him. I think the distance was the reason (he won today).”
Paret’s game stretch run secured second by a 1/2-length over Corelli. Arklow, the 6/5 favorite returning just a week after finishing off the board in the Elkhorn Stakes (G2), was uncharacteristically last early on and could rally to finish no better than fourth by 3/4 of a length over Muggsamatic.
Current, Standard Deviation, Eve’s Medal, and O Dionysus completed the order of finish.
Aquaphobia’s win was his first since February’s Old Man Eloquent Stakes at Gulfstream Park and improved his overall record to 36-9-6-6. The 7-year-old Giant’s Causeway son has now earned $647,361 for co-owners Paradise Farms Corp., David Staudacher, Hooties Racing, and Skychai Racing.
“He’d been training dynamite, so I was optimistic,” Maker said. “Coming out of his last race, the Wise Dan (G2), I thought that was a good race. He was beaten less than 2 lengths, so it looked like he was getting back to where we think he can be. He’s a classy, sound horse who makes it easy.”
Aquaphobia returned $23.40 to win, $9.20 to place, and $5.80 to show. Paret brought back $11 to place and $7.40 to show, while Corelli paid $6 to show.