Oceanport, N.J. -- Pants On Fire rewarded
his backers who sent him off as the 2-5 favorite, taking the $75,000 Skip Away
Stakes by a length as Malibu Way captured the $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes at
Monmouth Park on Saturday.
Racing in the colors of George and Lori
Hall, Pants On Fire sat off early fractions of :23 2/5 for the quarter and :47
for the half-mile before assuming command at the head of the stretch and holding
off the late challenge of Norman Asbjornson.
“He broke well from the gate, but when the
dirt started hitting him in the face, he didn’t really like it,” said winning
jockey Paco Lopez, who rode five winners on Monmouth’s Saturday card. “Around
the 5/8ths pole I made a little move and then ran into traffic around the
3/8ths. I was able to find a little hole and he ran right through. He was the
best horse in the race. I knew the second horse was coming, but he was never
going to get by us.”
Pants On Fire, returned $2.80, $2.20 and
$2.10 and topped the $6.60 exacta. Norman Asbjornson returned $2.80, $2.20. It
was another 4 ½ lengths back to Cactus Charlie, who paid $6.60 to show.
“It wasn’t as easy a race as the 2-5 odds
showed,” said winning trainer Kelly John Breen. “I did not give much in the way
of instructions to Paco, I just told him to ride his race. On paper, and the way
the race unfolded he had to earn it. It was a good race for him. We’ll look at
the Monmouth Cup (Grade 2 on July 7 at one mile here). It’s our home track and
the Halls support Monmouth Park, so that’s likely our next
Pants On Fire stepped the mile and a
sixteenth over the fast main track in 1:43.56 as he earned his second victory of
the year. The 4-year-old colt by Jump Start from the Cape Town mare Cabo de
Noche has now banked $933,060 for his connections.
In the $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes, Lael
Way overcame a pedestrian pace on a turf course rated
“good” and made a bold run through the stretch to wear down Heavy Breathing
right before the wire and prevailed by a neck.
Ridden by Joe Bravo, the Christophe
Clement-trainee was making only his third career start and his first try in
stakes company. Dispatched as the 2-1 second choice in the field of seven
Way covered the mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.1 and
returned $6.60, $3 and $2.60. Heavy Breathing, the odds-on favorite, paid $2.60
and $2.20 and completed the $14.80 exacta. It was another length and a half
back to Crafty Unicorn, who paid $3.40 to show.
“They were pretty confident with this horse
when he ran at Gulfstream this year,” said Bravo. “I rode him with that
confidence knowing he’s had a little more experience today. Turning for home, I
was saying to myself, ‘Thank God I’m sitting on this horse.’ He’s very talented
and it looks like he’s got a bright future.”
Malibu Way, by First Samurai out of the Red
Ransom mare Redmond, now has two wins and one second from
three lifetime starts. The stakes win was the second in two tries for
Clement-trained horses so far this meet.
Live racing continues at Monmouth on Sunday,
May 27 – gates open 11:30 a.m., first post 12:50 p.m.