News & Barn notes

Name Changer Regains Winning Ways In Grade 3 Monmouth Cup On Haskell Undercard

July 29, 2018


In the 40th renewal of the Grade 3, $150,000 Monmouth Cup, one of four graded stakes and five stakes races on the undercard of the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park Sunday, Name Changer returned to his winning ways under Eclipse Award winning rider Jose Ortiz. 

The Colts Neck Stables homebred, who was bred in Kentucky and is a son of Uncle Mo, overcame being bumped out of the gate to rate kindly behind pacesetters Phat Man and Remembering Rita before engaging the pair on the far turn in the mile and a sixteenth mile effort on the main track. 

As they turned for home, Name Changer put the heat on Phat Man and took over the lead down the lane. But he had to dig in inside the sixteenth pole to hold off a late charge from Zanotti, the 8-5 favorite who was partnered with Jorge Vargas, Jr., to cross the wire 1½ lengths in front in 1:49.56. 

With the win, Name Changer made amends for a third-place finish in a Delaware Park stakes race last time out after winning his two previous efforts impressively. 

“I don’t what happened in his last race,” said trainer Alan Goldberg. “I was a little surprised, other than he ran in fractions that were too fast early. It was a real clunker. It was head-scratcher and he was close, so we said we’ll try it because he was going really good before that last race. 

 “Today I thought we’d be a little farther back but I thought that with the horses in first (Phat Man) and second (Remembering Rita) early he’d be out there going with them. This horse has been breaking better than he did in the past. He broke good, maintained his position and everything was cool from there.”  

          Zanotti, whose sustained drive came up short, got second, five lengths in front of Page McKenney, while Remembering Rita, Let Me Go First and Phat Man followed to the wire.  

“It was important for me to break him sharp and keep him in a forwardly placed position,” said Ortiz. “When I saw the horses in front of me battling for the lead, I knew I had a good chance of winning the race. The horse showed how much heart he had to fend off the horse on my outside.” 

Name Changer returned $10.40 for a $2 wager and increased his earnings to $382, 550. 

          Pin Oak Stables’ homebred Synchrony did not disappoint his backers who sent him off as the top choice in the 72nd running of the Grade 3, $100,00 Oceanport Stakes as the 3-5 prohibitive favorite in the field of seven. He overcame a troubled trip and an slow pace to win with authority. 

The 5-year-old son of Tapit, who got shut off leaving the gate, raced at the back of the pack under Joe Bravo as Mo Maverick led the field into the far turn while setting pedestrian fractions of :25.56, :49.93 and 1:12.85 on the turf. When Bravo tried to make his move coming out of the far turn, Synchrony had no place to run. But then Bravo, who has a well-earned reputation as a master on the Monmouth grass, asked the horse to go through a tight opening on the rail and Synchrony complied courageously. 

“I got shut off at the start, got him to relax nicely behind horses going down the backside. Approaching the far turn, I was getting a little worried there would be no place to go. When the hole opened up along the rail, he exploded late,” Bravo said. 

Trainer Michael Stidham said, “The horse got murdered at the start. But the horse has shown he can sit back or lay a little closer if they are going slow. Today I was worried because they went :25.56 for the opening quarter and he was way back in the pack. But when you’ve got a lot of horse the hole isn’t moving faster than you are. You’re moving faster than the hole.” 

          Synchrony finished 2¼ lengths in front of 18-1 choice Doctor Mounty while the New Jersey-bred Irish Strait was another ¾ of a length back. His final time for the mile and a sixteenth test over the turf was 1:42.05 

Synchrony, who ran second to Irish Strait in last year’s Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes here, returned $3.40 for a $2 wager and has now won six of 14 starts. With the $60,000 winner’s share of the purse he upped his bankroll to $556,552.  

“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. 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,” Stidham said. “Joe fits this horse perfectly.” 

          Mo Maveruck, Kharafa, Dover Cliffs, and Force the Pass completed the order of finish. 

          Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown brought two of the female turf stars in his powerhouse stable back to the Jersey Shore for the 52nd edition of the Grade 3, $100,000 WinStar Matchmaker, and he ended up rooting both home through the lane as Elysea’s World came from off the pace to just nail stable mate Dream Awhile at the wire and prevail by a nose. 

“In a situation like this (being first and second) you’re hoping for a dead heat, and we almost got it,” said Brown. “These fillies are so close. They were equal weights today (123 pounds), which made a difference. I thought both of them 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. 

“Elysea’s World really had a bad trip last race. She was wide and it just didn’t work out for her. She had trained very well coming up to this race, as did Dream Awhile. They both fired their best shot.”  

          Joseph Allen’s Dream Awhile, dispatched as the 3-5 favorite under Joe Bravo, settled in nicely in the mile and an eighth test over the turf for seven fillies and mares, and then rallied on the far turn to take the lead away from Viva Vegas. The 4-year-old daughter of War Front was seemingly in complete command after opening up a lead of three lengths in the stretch. 

          Dream Awhile and Bravo looked as though they would cruise to the win, but, Elysea’s World, who is owned by Sheep pond Partners and All Pro Racing LLC, and Eclipse Award winning jockey Joe Ortiz had their best in store. 

          Elysea’s World, a 5-year-old daughter of Champs Elysees, showed her heart and rallied willingly under Ortiz as the Brown trainees equally dug down deep to the thrilling finish. 

          “I’m glad we got the win,” said Ortiz. “To be honest, when we passed the three-eighths pole I didn’t think we could catch the other filly because Joe (Bravo, aboard Dream Awhile) was going pretty easy. I was already trying to get close to him and he was already passing horses on the outside very easy.  

“When we passed the quarter-pole I still didn’t think I would get there. I kept riding my horse, riding my horse, and when we got to the sixteenth pole I thought, `Now I’ve got a shot.’ My filly got a little bit of momentum and we got clear on the outside and Chad’s other filly backed up a little bit and we just got it. She gave me everything she had.” 

          Elysea’s World, the 4-1 third choice in the wagering, finished in 1:47.40 and returned $10.80 for a $2 bet. With the win, she turned the tables on her stablemate Dream Awhile, who in their last race captured the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes her and Elysea’s World was third.  

          The win was her fifth in 19 efforts and her first graded stakes score this year and it boosted her bankroll to $502,383. 

          Viva Vegas, Lift Up, Party Boat and Broken Bridle completed the order of finish. 

          The owners of the top three finishers in the Matchmaker are awarded a stallion season to one of three WinStar Farm’s stallions — 2016 Haskell winner Exaggerator, multiple graded stakes winner Commissioner or 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile victor Tourist, with Elysea’s World’s connections having first pick.  

In the 73rd renewal of the Grade 3, $100,000 Molly Pitcher, Berned took advantage of the class relief to get back into the win column and win her second stakes race at Monmouth this year while remaining undefeated at the Jersey Shore. 

Berned, who is trained by H. Graham Motion and owned by R. Masiello, West Point Thoroughbreds and C. Larsen, was a well-beaten sixth last time when she tangled with reigning 3-Year-Old Filly champion and 2017 Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman and the rest of the field in the Grade 1 Odgen Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9. 

She found the other seven fillies and mares in the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher much more to her liking, rallying from far off the pace under Joe Bravo to win by ¾ of a length ahead of the Steve Asmussen-trained Dreamcall. Divine Miss Grey, the 4-5 favorite, was another 5½ lengths back. 

“Her last race was a little tough for her. Joe Bravo has ridden her a couple of times now so I didn’t really have to give him a lot of instructions. He knows her better than anyone. He said being on the outside he had to outbreak the other horses. He didn’t. Fortunately, he was able to save ground. She made a big move at the three-eighths pole,” said Adrian Roll, the assistant to Motion.  

          Said Bravo: “She broke well. I took her off the pace because I knew the horses up front were going quickly. Down the back side, I started to creep up a little at a time. When we got to the top of the stretch, I knew I had the two in front beat. The only thing I was worried about from that point was the horse tracking me. I’m blessed to ride these amazing horses and I can’t thank the connections enough for letting me ride this filly. She is special.” 

          Berned, dispatched at 4-1 odds, covered the mile and a sixteenth on the main track in the final time of 1:44.52. 

She is the winner of five of 15 lifetime efforts and has now earned $374,781.  

 Unchained Melody, Squan’s Kingdom, Viva Forever, Valedictorian, and Disco Rose followed the top three to the wire. 

In the $75,000 Wolf Hill Stakes, run at 5½ furlongs on the turf, Breeze Easy LLC’s Imprimis, who was dropping down from a sixth place finish in the Grade 1 Hilander Stakes at Woodbine after taking the Turf Sprint at Pimlico Race Course on Preakness Day, was an impressive winner under Jose Ortiz, who also won the Haskell and three other graded stakes on the day. 

The prohibitive favorite in the field of 11 won in 1:01.69 on firm turf and returned $4.60 for a $2 win bet. Pool winner was second and Proforma was third, followed by Dubini, Ray’s Warrior, Simon Bar Sinister, Abiding Star, Snowday, Oak Bluffs, Nice Tune and Bold Thunder. 

Trainer Joe Orseno said the goal is to now bring the 4-year-old son of Broken Vow up to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.