OCEANPORT, N.J. — Trainer Michael Stidham obviously likes to look at the sunny side of life. After Supreme Aura stuck his neck out to win the $100,000 Pegasus Stakes on Sunday afternoon, the veteran conditioner told Monmouth Park interviewers he is looking at the $1 million, Grade 1 betfair.com Haskell Invitational that is carded for the Jersey Shore oval on July 29.
Since the Pegasus is the track's traditional Haskell prep, Supreme Aura will no doubt be getting some very heavy stationery from his local letter carrier.
A few days earlier, Monmouth Racing Secretary John Heims said Triple Crown winner Justify “will definitely be invited.” Thus, the 3-year-old Supreme Aura's next start could be against the Bob Baffert Bullet and his henchman Mike Smith at a mile and furlong.
Supreme Aura and Jersey Joe Bravo took on six rivals in the Pegasus as the 7 to 2 third choice in the wagering. The son of Candy Ride from Groton Circle had little to recommend them coming into the Pegasus after a dull ninth place finish in Fairgrounds' Risen Star in February. After a brief freshening, the colt was put up a pair of third place finishes in ungraded races.
Stidham took blinkers off Supreme Aura for his second race around two turns in his seven starts “because they didn't change anything.”
If Supreme Aura's career started to turn around in the Pegasus, it came as the field was on the far turn. Bravo got to riding on him and Supreme Aura took off in pursuit of the pace setting long shot Roaming Union. He collared that opponent in deep stretch and went on to win by a neck. It was another 12-1/4 lengths back to Justaholic and Jose Ferrer in third.
They ran the 8-1/2 furlongs in 1:46.48 on fast track.
An optimistic Stidham said after the race, “He has been a horse that has really developed. He's changed over the past few months and he's finally putting it all together.”
A day earlier, Oscar Performance came back from a dull ninth place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Del Mar and a subsequent seven month vacation to post a record breaking win in Belmont's $300,000, Grade 3 Poker Stakes.
When the tele-timer stopped flashing on the Belmont infield, it showed the 4-year-old ridgling had set a new track record of 1 minute, 31.23 seconds for the mile on the Widener Turf Course. That was 4/10 of a second faster than Elusive Quality's 1:31.63 set in the July 4, 1998 Poker.
Reports from Belmont also say Oscar Performance tied the world record for a mile on the turf that was previously held alone by Mandurah for his Monmouth Park race of June 6, 2010.
Jose Ortiz rode the winner for trainer Brian Lynch.
After winning the Grade 3 Pilgrim as a 2-year-old, Oscar Performance won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. As a sophomore, he ran a three straight string of wins in the Grade 3 Penine Ridge, Grade 1 Belmont Derby and the Grade 1 Secretariat.
Racing secretaries with one mile turf stakes in their condition books will be contacting Lynch after he said, “We know he can go a bit further, but the mile is a distance at which he's very quick. So, it's probably something we'll concentrate on.”
Back at Monmouth Park, the New Jersey-bred Chublicious came from fifth place in a field of eight to win the $78,000 (Listed) Mr. Prospector Stakes at six furlongs. The 7-year-old is a gelded son of Hey Chub from the Arch mare Sassy Broad who was bred by the Joe-Dan Farm that is partially owned by former trainer (and much earlier show jumping rider) Danny Lopez.
The win in the Mr. Prospector was Chublicious' 11th from 27 starts. His lifetime earnings are now over $600,000.
Six filly and mare sprinters lined up for the $75,000 Regret Stakes, a race named for a New Jersey-bred filly who won the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Chalon and Paco Lopez came from the outside stall and took up a stalking position behind the pace setting Behmik's Bank and jockey Edwin Gonzalez.
Lopez called on the bay filly who flys the colors of the Lael Stables and she responded with a four-length win over Jessica Krupnick and jockey Trevor McCarthy. Chalon, the 1 to 2 favorite ran the six panels in 1:10.05 over a fast main track.
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