2023 United Nations Stakes Preview
Top older turf males hit the track Saturday afternoon at Monmouth Park in New Jersey for the Grade 1, $600,000 United Nations Stakes, the highlight of the Haskell Stakes undercard. The history of the race dates all the way back to 1953 at Atlantic City Race Course, and the name came from a goal of making horse racing a more international sport. Though the race moved from Atlantic City Race Course to Monmouth Park in 1999, it remains one of the major destinations for top older turf routers in the summer.
The 2023 edition of the United Nations drew a field of 10 to go 1 ⅜ miles over the Monmouth Park grass. Leading contenders include Man O’ War (G1) winner Red Knight who most recently ran fourth in the Manhattan Stakes (G1), San Juan Capistrano (G3) winner Planetario, and Monmouth Stakes (G3) winner Catnip. Interestingly, this is one of the few top-level turf races that won’t be dominated by trainer Chad Brown: though he has won the United Nations four times, including the last two years, he did not enter a horse in 2023.
2023 United Nations Stakes Information
Race Date: Saturday, July 22
Track: Monmouth Park
Post Time: 5:06 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time
Distance: 1 ⅜ miles on the turf
Age/Sex: three-year-olds and upward
Where to Watch: TVG.com, NBC, Peacock
Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing
United Nations Stakes Draw and Odds
This is the field for the United Nations Stakes, including post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning-line odds:
|1||Therapist||Mike Maker||Javier Castellano||6-1|
|2||So High||Naipaul Chatterpaul||Romero Maragh||30-1|
|3||Catnip||Mike Stidham||Joel Rosario||4-1|
|4||Oceans Map||Gregory Sacco||Isaac Castillo||30-1|
|5||Limited Liability||Shug McGaughey||John Velazquez||5-1|
|6||Planetario||Richard Mandella||Mike Smith||3-1|
|7||Yamato||Mike Maker||Luis Saez||15-1|
|8||Foreign Relations||Conor Murphy||Declan Cannon||8-1|
|9||Red Knight||Mike Maker||Tyler Gaffalione||5-2|
|10||Kygo||Elizabeth Dobles||Paco Lopez||20-1|
United Nations Stakes Prep Race Results
Among the ten entrants in the United Nations, horses come from eight different last-out races, including five stakes races. Two races, both in Kentucky, have two last-out runners in this race. Limited Liability and Yamato, who finished second and fourth in the Lousiville (G3) at Churchill Downs, turn back in distance for this one. They both have to turn the tables on Louisville winner Foreign Relations, though that one already returned in the Chorleywood at Ellis and finished a disappointing sixth as the even-money favorite. He won’t face winner Vivar in the United Nations, but will see second-place Therapist (who also contested the Louisville, finishing eighth).
The only runner coming out of Grade 1 company is Red Knight, who finished fourth behind divisional leader Up to the Mark in the Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park. Two back, he won at the top level in the Man O’ War over that same course.
Two United Nations Stakes entrants come out of victories in graded stakes races. Catnip was last seen winning the Monmouth Stakes, the local prep at Monmouth Park. Planetario ships out from the west coast; he most recently won the San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita.
The other three runners come out of allowance company; all will have to step up because, coincidentally, they all finished fourth in those lower-level races. So High was most recently fourth in a first-level allowance at Belmont Park, Kygo comes out of a fourth-place try in a second-level allowance at Monmouth, and Oceans Map was fourth in a top-shelf conditioned allowance at Laurel.
United Nations Stakes Contenders
These are the ten runners in the 2023 United Nations Stakes, in order of their post position.
Therapist: Trainer Mike Maker has done much of his best work after claiming older long-distance turf horses, and this eight-year-old New York-bred has fit that form. Maker and owner Michael Dubb claimed Therapist for $50,000 in January, won a starter allowance and the Pan American (G2) with him earlier this year, and after an off day in the Louisville, he got back on track with a good second in the Chorleywood at Ellis. The extra eighth of a mile this time should do him good, though he’ll have to work a trip from the rail.
So High: To his credit, he was beaten only two lengths in the Man O’ War over this same distance in 2021. However, that was two years and a long layoff ago. His best chance is to try and steal it on the front end, since this ten-horse field is devoid of speed, and he does his best work when he can grab the front end. But, add to that the fact that he hasn’t won a race since a claimer in 2020, and a long shot for lower rungs of exotics looks like his ceiling, even with a pace advantage.
Catnip: This son of Kitten’s Joy rides a three-race win streak into the United Nations: he won a first-level allowance at Keeneland in April, knocked off his second-level condition at Monmouth Park the next month, and then scored in the local prep, the Monmouth Stakes. His tactical speed is a positive, as he should be able to get a forward trip in a field without a lot of early gas. He is improving with time and distance, and even though he faces a deeper field here, he is going the right way and should sit a good trip.
Oceans Map: He has struggled in three allowance-level starts and has yet to run a race that makes him competitive here. He ran a decent second in a 1 ½-mile ungraded race last year at Monmouth, suggesting some stamina and some ability over this course, but even with his tactical speed, he has yet to run a race that makes him a contender even in this marginal Grade 1 field.
Limited Liability: Though this Shug McGaughey trainee has yet to win a stakes race, he has a lot of graded stakes experience and has consistently been in the mix, piling up five graded placings in ten starts. That includes a second-place finish in the Louisville last out at Churchill Downs, a race that made him look like he liked the distance as much as his long-winded pedigree suggested he should. This 1 ⅜-mile distance should be similarly good for him as well. The biggest question for this improving four-year-old is pace, as this race has little speed on paper, and he does his best running late.
Planetario: A multiple Grade 1 winner in Brazil, he has started three times in the United States. He steadily improved through those starts, running off the board in an allowance but finishing second in the San Luis Rey (G3) at a mile and a half before winning the 1 ¾-mile San Juan Capistrano. The cut back to 1 ⅜ mile may not play to his strengths, as it looks like he may want to go longer than that, and his late-running style is unlikely to get the setup. However, he does have the class, and trainer Richard Mandella is one of the best in the game when it comes to choosing spots for shippers.
Yamato: He is the second of three Mike Maker entrants, and he also fits the “high-priced older horse claimed and stepped up into stakes company” model like Therapist. A $50,000 claim at Gulfstream in March, Yamato won an allowance-optional claimer first off the claim, and then finished a late-running fourth in the Louisville in his first stakes try for the Maker barn. He had a lot of ground to close up in the Louisville, though he broke slowly that day, and other races suggest that, with a better start, he can be closer up—especially with the switch to aggressive rider Luis Saez.
Foreign Relations: This lightly-raced five-year-old made an impact in his first-ever stakes start back in May, when he won the Louisville in stalk-and-pounce fashion. That kind of a trip could suit him well in this race as well, and Declan Cannon returns to the irons. The question is his form, as he was an even sixth in the Chorleywood as the even-money favorite in his only start since that Louisville win. But, stretching back out to a longer distance could move him forward, and trainer Conor Murphy can pop at a price with a shipper.
Red Knight: The third of the Mike Maker brigade, he is the oldest at nine years old and also the only one who wasn’t a claim: he was previously in the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, but turned up in July 2022 after an 11-month layoff for Maker, but the same owner. He has been as good as ever, and he is also the only horse in the field who has won a Grade 1 race this year: two starts back, he won the Man O’ War over this same 1 ⅜-mile distance at Belmont. Though he was left to rally into a slow pace, he did so successfully, a positive given that he won’t have a hot pace this time, either.
Kygo: In a reverse pattern compared to several entrants, he was claimed off of Mike Maker for $50,000 in May of last year. He was off for a year after the claim, with his best finish in three starts this year for Elizabeth Dobles being a third-place outing in a $50,000 claimer in March. He has tried this distance just once, and though on paper he is bred for it, he was a troubled and ultimately well-beaten tenth in the Mac Diarmida (G2) last year. He has not yet run a race at any distance or in any company that would make him competitive here.
United Nations Stakes FAQ
Q: When is the United Nations Stakes?
A: The United Nations will be run Saturday, July 22, 2023, at 5:06 Eastern Daylight Time.
Q: Where is the United Nations Stakes?
A: The United Nations Stakes happens at Monmouth Park in Red Bank, New Jersey. The race is the 11th of 14 races on the Saturday card at Monmouth Park, and is one of two Grade 1 stakes races on the card. The other, the Haskell Stakes, comes directly afterwards.
Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the United Nations Stakes?
A: Mackenzie Miller leads all trainers with six wins in the United Nations, spanning from 1966 through 1984. Among trainers with starters in the 2023 edition of the race, Mike Maker and Richard Mandella lead with two wins each. Maker won with Aquaphobia (2020) and Bigger Picture (2017); he has Therapist, Yamato, and Red Knight this year. Richard Mandella, who sends the Brazil-bred Planetario, won with Sandpit (also bred in Brazil!) in both 1995 and 1996.
Q: Who is the favorite for the United Nations Stakes?
A: At 5-2, Red Knight is the morning-line favorite. He should be well bet: he was only fourth in the Manhattan Stakes last out, though he won the Man O’ War at Belmont Park two starts back. Others expected to take money include Planetario (3-1), Catnip (4-1), and Limited Liability (5-1), so respect any action on these runners.
Q: Who is the best United Nations Stakes jockey?
A: Jersey Joe Bravo has lived up to his nickname in this race: the Monmouth Park regular won it five times between 2012 and 2020. Bravo does not have a call this year. Among riders in the 2023 edition of the United Nations, John Velazquez leads the group with two wins. He has the call on Limited Liability for Shug McGaughey.
Q: Who won the United Nations Stakes in 2022?
A: Trainer Chad Brown and jockey Flavien Prat sent out winner Adhamo in 2022. Brown did not enter a horse in the 2023 United Nations, and Prat does not ride the race this year either.