Monongahela Takes Third Shot at $100,000 John B. Campbell

Monongahela Takes Third Shot at $100,000 John B. Campbell

Brothers John, Jason Servis Have Contenders in Two-Turn Stakes
Among Five Stakes, Two Graded, Worth $800,000 Saturday, Feb. 15

LAUREL, MD – Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and Gary Aisquith’s Grade 3 winner Monongahela, beaten a head last winter, returns for the third straight year seeking an elusive victory in the $100,000 John B. Campbell Stakes Saturday at Laurel Park.

The 66th running of the Campbell for 4-year-olds and up at about 1 1/16 miles is among five stakes, two graded, worth $800,000 in purses on a nine-race Winter Carnival program co-headlined by the $250,000 Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3) for fillies and mares 4 and older and the $250,000 General George (G3) for 4-year-olds and up, both at seven furlongs.

Also on the card are a pair of $100,000 stakes for 3-year-olds, the seven-furlong Wide Country for fillies and the one-mile Miracle Wood. First race post time is 12:25 p.m.

In addition to live racing, Saturday’s program will include ice sculptures, ice carving demonstrations, ice wall with $2,500 in prizes, kids’ winter crafts and face painting, hot chocolate and coffee bar, special stakes buffet and a Maryland Jockey Club knit hat giveaway with program purchase, while supplies last.

Now 6, Monongahela rallied to be part of a three-way photo finish in last year’s Campbell, second to Bonus Points and a head in front of Unbridled Juan in third. It was his first race since being purchased privately from breeder Gunpowder Farms following the 2018 season, during which he ran last of five behind front-running winner Afleet Willy in the Campbell.

Monongahela enjoyed his richest season to date in 2019, earning $253,800 in purses from eight starts, two of them wins, topped by the 1 1/16-mile Iselin (G3) last June at Monmouth Park.

“I guess they liked the horse so they pursued him to buy him and they got it done,” trainer Jason Servis said. “I don’t know what they paid, but I think they’ve been real happy with him.”

Following the Iselin, Monongahela ran sixth in both the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga and the Kelso (G2) at Belmont Park before a three-length triumph over Someday Jones in the Swatara Stakes at Penn National. Someday Jones, trained by Servis’ brother, Kentucky Derby (G1) winner John Servis, reversed the outcome in the Native Dancer Dec. 28 at Laurel.

“He’s was coming off a huge number in the previous race, so he might have regressed a little bit last time,” Jason Servis said. “He’s coming into this race really good.”

Since joining Servis’ barn, Monongahela has found himself engaged in races early rather than coming from well off the pace. Two-time defending Eclipse Award winner Irad Oritz Jr. is named to ride from Post 6 in a field of nine at 120 pounds.

“We changed his running style a little bit. He always kind of laid back, and I think it left him too much to do,” Servis said. “He’s really taken to it. When he’s way back like that, it’s a lot to ask of any horse. We’ve gotten him to where he at least leaves the gate a little bit closer and doesn’t have as much work to do.”

John Servis got the best of his brother in the Native Dancer, when Someday Jones passed Monongahela then angled out to the middle of the track for a stretch run where he reeled in front-running Alwaysmining and went on to win by two lengths, his 10th victory from 25 career starts.

A 7-year-old son of Smarty Jones, who Servis trained to wins in the 2004 Derby and Preakness (G1), Someday Jones has finished in the money 17 times in his career with a lifetime bankroll approaching $600,000.

“He’s always been a talented horse; we could never get him on track. Every time we’d get a few races in him something would pop up or he’d get hurt and we’d have to stop on him,” Servis said. “For being 7, he’s only run 25 times. “Finally, I think it’s been probably close to a year where we haven’t had to stop on him, knock on wood, and he seems to just be getting better.”

Someday Jones, who tuned up for the Campbell with a sharp half-mile breeze in 48.27 seconds Feb. 8 at Parx, fifth-fastest of 27 horses, will carry co-topweight of 124 pounds including Maryland’s four-time champion jockey Trevor McCarthy from Post 4.

“He’s doing great, really good. He worked the other day and I got a video of him the next morning and he was jumping around, happy,” Servis said. “He’s coming into the race really good.”

Main Line Racing Stables and Alexandria Stable’s Someday Jones was bred in Pennsylvania by Patricia Chapman, who with her late husband, Roy, also bred and campaigned Smarty Jones as Someday Farm. Each of Someday Jones’ two previous stakes wins came against state-bred company.

“He’s not like a Smarty Jones horse at all. He’s more like his mother [Last Toots],” Servis said. “He has a great mind on him. He’s a very smart horse, a very classy horse. A lot of those Smartys can be high-strung and a little hard to deal with, and he’s not like that.

“I’m hoping he runs really good on Saturday because he is a full horse. If he runs real good on Saturday maybe we eventually try a graded-stake and maybe he’ll have a home somewhere as a stallion,” he added. “It’d be nice for him.”

Runnymoore Racing’s Alwaysmining snapped a five-race losing streak with a 1 ¾-length victory in the one-mile Jennings Stakes against Maryland-bred/sired horses Jan. 18 at Laurel. It was his sixth career stakes win and first since last April’s 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio that earned him an automatic berth in the Preakness, where he finished 11th.

Alwaysmining went five months between races after the Indiana Derby (G3) last summer, returning to be beaten two lengths in back-to-back starts when fifth in the Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial, also against state-breds, Dec. 7 and second in the Native Dancer. Julian Pimentel rides for the fifth straight time from Post 3, also at 124 pounds.

Three Diamonds Farm’s defending champion Bonus Points is winless in eight starts since last year’s Campbell, where he exchanged bumps with Monongahela in mid-stretch before going on to win. The 6-year-old owns a 4-4-1 record from 14 lifetime tries over Laurel’s main track, including a pair of 2018 allowance wins and the 2017 Maryland Million Classic.

Rounding out the field are Richard Malouf’s Senior Investment, winner at the track and distance last out in a third-level optional claiming allowance Jan. 31; Forewarned, a two-time Ohio-bred stakes winner that was most recently fifth in the Cigar Mile (G1) Dec. 7; and Wait for It, fourth in the Pimlico Special (G3) and Swatara last year and exiting a Parx allowance victory Jan. 6.