Amatteroftime ($53.20) Springs Upset In Sunday’s Friendly Lover Handicap

Monmouth Park Press Release

There was nothing on paper to suggest that Amatteroftime would even be a factor in Sunday’s $88,400 Friendly Lover Stakes for Jersey-breds at Monmouth Park.

 The 9-year-old was coming off an eight-month-plus layoff, was on a 12-race losing streak and hadn’t beaten state-breds since winning the Charles Hesse III Handicap in 2021.

 He was also up against a 1-20 shot in Great Navigator.

 But given a rousing stretch ride by Isaac Castillo, Amatteroftime surged to the lead in the final sixteenth of a mile and went on to post a stunning upset by three-quarters of a length over No Cents. Irish Boolum was another three lengths back in third, with a tiring Great Navigator finishing fourth in the eight-horse field.

 Amatteroftime paid $53.20 to win, covering the mile in 1:39.74.

 “I think the time off had a lot to do with it,” said trainer Miguel Penaloza, who is conditioning Amatteroftime for the first time in the gelding’s 54-race career. “We made a few adjustments with him, changing his shoes and a couple of other small things, but I can’t say I expected this. On paper Great Navigator looked unbeatable. But you just don’t know in horse racing.”

  With stretching-out sprinter No Cents trying to steal the race on the front end through pedestrian early fractions of :25.46 and :49.54, Castillo had Amatteroftime fifth on the outside.

 Great Navigator, breaking from outside post eight, managed to get to the rail for Paco Lopez but appeared to spend all of his energy rushing up from fourth to go after No Cents’ big lead late in the final turn.

Castillo had Amatteroftime outside then and the son of Eskendereya managed to close into those slow early fractions as Great Navigator faded. No Cents was stubborn in defeat.

“This horse always tries and I know the horse has the experience so I tried to keep him relaxed,” said Castillo. “He was able to relax and he ran really great. I liked where we were coming down the stretch, seeing a target for him to run at late. We were in a good position when it was time to run.”

Now 10-for-54 lifetime, Amatteroftime last won on Nov. 2, 2022, going 0-for-11 last year.

Penaloza took over the training duties from Ramirez Silvino in the winter.

“I don’t know if he has come back better at 9 than he has been before but he has been working well and I told the owners (East Street Stable LLC) this morning that I had a feeling he would run well,” said Penaloza. “Did I expect him to win? I can’t say that.

“I don’t know if the race fell apart but I am very pleased with the way he ran. This is the first stakes race I have ever won at Monmouth Park so it’s a good feeling.”

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