Horses

Jersey-Bred Brothers Fare Differently On Different Tracks

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Irish War Cry wins the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 8, 2017. Credits: NYRA
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Irish Strait, #4, with Antonio Gallardo riding wins the Dan Horn Handicap at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. on June 17, 2018. Credits: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
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Irish Strait, #4, with Antonio Gallardo riding wins the Dan Horn Handicap at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. on June 17, 2018. Credits: Ryan Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
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OCEANPORT, NJ — ”I have good news—and bad news,” said a follower of the New Jersey Thoroughbred racing scene.

The good news is Irish Strait, a full brother to the graded stakes winner Irish War Cry, took the lead approaching the far turn then stayed on to win the $63,300 Dan Horn Stakes for New Jersey-breds on Monmouth Park's Father's Day program. The six-year-old gelded son of English Channel from the Polish Numbers Irish Sovereign defeated eight rivals in the 8-1/2-furlong contest on the Monmouth infield.

With Antonio Gallardo in the saddle for trainer Graham Motion, Irish Strait made the Dan Horn his sixth career win from 21 starts for owner-breeder Isabelle de Tomaso, the daughter of Monmouth founder Amory L. Haskell. The win earned the chestnut $36,000 and boosted his lifetime earnings to $336,000.

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He ran the mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.42 as the 1 to 2 favorite and won by a half-length over long shot Golden Brown ridden by Jairo Rendon. Fuzzy Muzzle and Paco Lopez were third another 2-1/2 length back in third.

The bad news on the Jersey scene is Irish Strait's more famous brother, Irish War Cry, was apparently stricken by a case of “thumps” during the running of Churchill Down's $500,000, Grade 1 Stephen Foster Stakes, a Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” Challenge contest on Saturday night.

The 4-year-old, fresh from a win in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special, was sent post-ward as the second choice in the wagering against eight rivals in the mile and a furlong contest that earned the winner a free nomination and an expenses paid trip to the Grade 1 Breeder's Cup Classic on Nov. 3 back at Churchill.

Irish War Cry and New York riding champion Jose Ortiz came out of the gate alertly and took up a stalking position behind the pace-setting long shot Uncle Mojo. As the field reached the far turn, Irish War Cry abruptly regressed and was eased and was vanned off the track.

Dr. Ken Dunlavy immediately told an NSNBC audience Irish War Cry was “sound.” He said the van trip was a “precautionary measure to give him a ride back to the barn.” He noted thumps, which is often referred to as 'hiccups for horses.' can be caused by an electrolyte imbalance. It is also medically defined as a “synchronous diaphragmatic flutter.”

Veterinarians say thumps can be aggravated by extreme heat and by the use of the anti-bleeding medication Lasix or Salix. The temperature during the Saturday night program at Churchill was reported over 90 degrees. Irish War Cry is also a regular Lasix user, according to his official past performances.

No next day information was forthcoming from Churchill. After the race, trainer Graham Motion said, “I second guessed my decision (to run). I thought it would cool off. When we shipped out here it was really hot and tonight it just didn’t cool off at all.”

The Foster and the free trip to the Breeders' Cup Classic went to Reddam Racing's Pavel, who broke a string of five fourth place finishes when he took the lead and went on to win by 3-3/4 lengths. His last win came in last year's Grade 3 Smarty Jones at Parx.

The winner's check for $297,600 made Pavel an equine millionaire.

The win for trainer Doug O'Neill raised his record at Churchill Downs to three wins from 50 starts. That percentage is guaranteed never to impress a bettor—until the bettor considers that O'Neill's winners were I'll Have Another in the 2012 Kentucky Derby, Nyquist in the 2016 Derby and Pavel in the 2018 Stephen Foster.

Also at Churchill, Merriebelle Stable's Blue Prize earned a free ticket to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Distaff when she stalked the pace and pounced in the stretch to win the $200,000, Grade 2 Fleur de Lis by 1-1/2 lengths over Farrell and Mopoism.

The Argentine-bred now shows five wins, seven seconds and one third place finish from 14 starts to earn $605,233.

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