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Leader of the Band Turns Tables in Monmouth Oaks

Bandbox filly earned first graded score July 31 at Monmouth Park.

Leader of the Band wins the Monmouth Oaks at Monmouth Park

Leader of the Band wins the Monmouth Oaks at Monmouth Park

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Trainer John Servis went into the $259,000 Monmouth Oaks (G3) July 31 at Monmouth Park thinking Midnight Obsession was further ahead at this stage of her development than stablemate Leader of the Band.

He found himself re-assessing that belief.

Leader of the Band staged a prolonged rally from midpack, eventually collaring 6-5 favorite Edie Meeny Mino Mo at the sixteenth pole, and went on to a two-length victory in the 97th edition of the 1 1/16-mile event.

After breaking outward at the start, rushing up to the lead into the first turn, and then repulsing the early stretch challenge of Midnight Obsession, Edie Meeny Miny Mo held to be a game second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Midnight Obsession.

Leader of the Band turned in a final time of 1:43.44 on a fast track under jockey Frankie Pennington. Let go at odds of 10-1 in the field of nine 3-year-old fillies, she paid $22.60 to win.

"She ran great," said Servis. "Unfortunately, my other horse (Midnight Obsession) came out a little bit and bothered her at the start, so I thought she would be a little bit closer. But it might have worked out for the best. 

"She has been improving a lot. She's getting better and she's maturing. She's a little on the nervous side and she is starting to settle a little bit and she is starting to understand the racing game. I think she will continue to get better."

Servis, who also had both fillies go in the July 3 Delaware Oaks (G3), saw a reversal of their performances this time. Midnight Obsession was second that race, with Leader of the Band, who broke flat-footed, rallying to be third.

"She has a little bit of a late kick but she really has the steady, (Energizer) bunny in her. She just keeps coming," said Servis.

Notching her first graded stakes victory, the Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Bandbox  improved her career line to 3-2-2 from seven starts. Her earnings now stand at $264,540 for owner/breeder SMD Limited.

"The last time she ran in the Delaware Oaks she didn't get off great," said Pennington. "Today she made a great run late. When the pace was up ahead of me, she felt pretty good and I was sitting there and every time I nudged her she was giving me something so I felt pretty comfortable coming out of the three-eighths turn.

"She clipped heels a little bit after the break and I was a little further back than I wanted to be but she is such a nice horse, she kept chugging and she got the job done."

Edie Meeny Mino Mo, an impressive winner of her only two starts, both sprints, looked to be clear after taking command coming out of the final turn, but that's when Leader of the Band launched her rally.

Edie Meeny Miny Mo had taken the field through a half in :47.03, to three quarters in 1:11.36, and through the opening mile in 1:37.05.

Bred by her owner, Leader of the Band is out stakes-placed Sir Cat mare Catsuit, a producer of 10 foals. Eight of those foals have raced and seven are winners. One of her unraced foals is an Uncle Lino  2-year-old filly named Burano.

Leader of the Band is the first stakes winner and third black-type runner for Catsuit, following the stakes-placed Authoritative and Ill Conceived.

Video: Monmouth Oaks (G3)