OCEANPORT, N.J. (AP) A.P. Indian was the front-running winner of the $85,000 Decathlon Stakes, the opening day feature Saturday as Monmouth Park kicked off its 70th season.
The 58-day meet that runs through Sept. 27 began with a crowd of 11,138 on a foggy, cold day on the Jersey Shore.
''The attendance was good, with the weather what it was,'' said Bob Kulina, the track president. ''I'm pleased with the response of the horsemen this year. We have eight to 12 new trainers to make our betting product more interesting. I think we'll continue to build on last year's meet, which was successful.''
That support was evident as the first stakes of the season drew 10 runners with A.P. Indian the swiftest of all.
Daniel Centeno gunned the 5-year-old gelding immediately to the lead. A.P. Indian, the 2-1 favorite, beat Favorite Tale, the 6-5 choice, by 2 3/4 lengths to notch his fourth win in eight starts.
A.P. Indian has two wins and a second this year since switching to Arnaud Delacour's barn.
''He's pretty versatile,'' Delacour said. ''He can go long or short. He's got a lot of speed. He's very easy to train, he's no problem.''
Delacour can hope for an equally clean trip next weekend when he runs Divining Rod in the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, at Pimlico.
A.P. Indian paid $6.40, $3.40 and $2.80.
Favorite Tale returned $3 and $2.80 while Saucy Don paid $8 to win.
The time was 1:09.50 for six furlongs.
Joe Bravo, 13-time riding champion at Monmouth, was shutout. He remains two wins away from 5,000 for his career.
It was tough debut for announcer Frank Mirahmadi, whose first race call was largely obscured by the fog.