OCEANPORT, N.J. — Haskell Day at Monmouth Park is known to draw fans to see the great 3-year-olds run in the big race of the day. But, the supporting card offers some stakes that would be the main event at many tracks on many days.
With nearby Long Branch, N.J.'s own Joe Bravo in the saddle, Pin Oak Stable's Synchrony charged up the rail to win the 72nd running of the Oceanport for 3-year-olds and up at 1-1/16 miles on the Turf Course.
When starter John Daniels, Jr. sent the field of seven on their way from the turf chute, Mo Maverick and jockey Kendrick Caramouche looked like they wanted to get the 4-year-old gelding his first win in graded stakes company by going all the way in the $100,000, Grade 3 event. Meanwhile, Synchrony was recovering from a bumping incident with Dover Cliffs who was breaking from his inside.
As the race progressed, Bravo kept a close eye on the leaders and waited until a seam opened up along the inner rail. When he made his move, Synchrony, a 5-year-old homebred son of Tapit, charged through to get the win by 2-2/4 lengths over Larry Pratt and Dave Alden's long shot Doctor Mount who was taking a big step up from the allowance ranks to graded stakes quality races.
Isabelle de Tomaso's New Jersey-bred Irish Strait, the winner of the Jersey-bred Don Horn Stakes in his last outing, was third.
Synchrony's clocking in the $100,000 Oceanport of 1:42.05 on a firm track earned him his sixth win from 15 lifetime starts. The winner's check put him over the half-million dollar mark in purse earnings.
After the race, trainer Michael Stidham was pleased about the Sunday outcome but was unsure of his horse's racing schedule. “He’s a very classy horse who showed up today like we thought he would. He was able to give that good turn of foot when he needed it,” he said. “We’re not sure what’s next for him but this is certainly what we needed to see to take the step back up in Grade 1 and Grade 2 company,” he concluded.
Name Changer, racing for the Colt's Neck Stable and trainer Alan Goldberg, took the lead passing the quarter pole and looked like a fairly easy winner in the $150,000, Grade 3 Monmouth Cup, a mile and a furlong race for 3-year-olds and up on the main track.
When Name Changer straightened away for the stretch run, New York riding champion Jose Ortiz was able to look under his right arm and see Ten Strike Racing's Zanotti and Jorge Vargas, Jr. closing in.
Those two battled down the lane with Name Changer able to stay on for a half-length win in 1:49.56 over a fast surface.
Name Changer, whose last two wins were in allowance races, boosted his record to seven wins from 15 starts. Colt's Neck Stables will put $90,000 in the bank to raise the horse's earnings to $412,550.
In a race for both love and money, two-time Eclipse Award training champion Chad Brown saw two of his charges race down the lane with Sheep Pond Partners and All Pro Racing's Elysea's World getting the nod over Joseph Allen's Dream Awhile in the $100,000, Grade 3 WinStar Matchmaker.
Sheep Pond and All-Pro will not only receive a Monmouth Park check for $60,000 in purse money, but they will also receive a stallion season to one of WinStar's stallions — Exaggerator, Commissioner or Tourist. Allen will get to pick second for Dream Awhile. Emory Hamilton, the owner of the third place finishing Special Event, will also receive a season to one of WinStar's stallions.
Brown maintained his neutrality in the winner's circle when he said, “In a situation like this (being first and second) you’re hoping for a dead heat — and we almost got it. These fillies are so close. They were equal weights today, which made a difference. Both of them I though got good trips. They were a nose apart. They’re that close in ability, so it was nice to see them both on the wire.”
In reality, the official margin was Elysea's World by a neck over Dream Awhile with Special Event another five lengths back in third place. The winner was clocked in 1:47.70 over a firm turf course for her fifth win from 20 lifetime starts.”
In a race named for a heroine of the Revolutionary War's Battle of Monmouth in June 1778, Berned overtook the battling leaders, Divine Miss Grey and Unchained Melody, and win the $100,000, Grade 3 Molly Pitcher for fillies and mares.
The 73rd running of the race drew eight fillies and mares for the 1-1/16 mile tour on the main track.
Racing for the partnership of Masiello, West Point and Larsen and for trainer Graham Motion, the 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini came from seventh place to win by three quarters of a length in 1:44.52 over a fast track. The winning ride gave Joe Bravo his second trip to the winners' circle of the afternoon.
Berned, the winner of Monmouth's Serena's Song two starts back, scored her fifth career win from 15 starts. Her $60,000 Molly Pitcher dollars raised purse total over the $375,000 mark.
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