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PACO LOPEZ WINS FIVE STAKES IN ONE DAY

paco-lopez-five-win-day-gulfstreamLeading by all metrics for the week, Paco Lopez was unanimously selected as Jockeys’ Guild Foundation Detox Jockey of the Week for November 5 – 11, 2018. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America. Jockey of the Week is sponsored by FoundationDetox.com, America’s #1 Equine Toxin Remover.

Click here to read article from Paulick Report.

While a number of jockeys with five-win days have been honored as Jockey of the Week, Lopez made the accomplishment even more notable with five stakes wins in a single day. He also led in all categories on the ballot, including total wins and earnings.

On Millions Preview Day at Gulfstream Park West on Saturday, Lopez had a mount in all 11 races on the card, including the ten stakes races. He swept the early double, winning the $75,000 Millions Turf Preview with Galleon Mast ($5.20) and the $75,000 Millions Sprint Preview with Kroy ($5.20).

He finished third in the third race, then won the next two races on the card, the $75,000 Millions Classic Preview with Mr. Jordan ($4.60) and the $75,000 Juvenile Fillies Sprint with Lovesick ($5.80).

Lopez made his fifth trip to the winners’ circle several races later in the $75,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf with Vow to Recover ($8.80). His five stakes wins represented four different trainers.

With the stakes wins and appearances in other stakes on the same card, Lopez led all North American jockeys by stakes earnings, with $244,365. His total earnings for the week were $374,425, the highest of all jockeys eligible for the ballot. Lopez has earned $8,529,807 in 2018 and has lifetime earnings of over $84 million.

Lopez led by number of stakes wins, but he also led by total number of wins for the week, with 11 victories and a win rate of 44%. He finished in the money on 64% of his 25 starts last week. This year, he has won 192 of his 828 starts and is 2,402 for 11,991 lifetime. Lopez also won his first Breeders’ Cup race aboard Roy H last weekend at Churchill Downs.

Recognized in 2008 with the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey, Lopez is in second place in the jockey standings for the current meet at Gulfstream Park West with 33 wins since the meet began on October 3. Edgard Zayas, also on the ballot for winning two of the stakes on Millions Preview Day, is the current leading rider with 40 wins.

Lopez Rides Five Stakes Winners Saturday At Gulfstream West

Mr-Jordan-the-Millions-classic-prvw-credit-Lauren-KingPaco Lopez kicked off a banner day at Gulfstream Park West Saturday with a perfectly executed victory aboard Galleon Mast in the $75,000 Millions Turf Preview.

Lopez, who rode Roy H. to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs a week earlier, went on to win four more stakes on the Millions Preview card of nine stakes worth $675,000 in purses.

Click here to read article from Paulick Report.

The 33-year-old jockey certainly was on his game for the Turf Preview, executing a perfectly game plan for getting 8-5 favorite back to the winner’s circle after a series of hard-luck close calls.

“He told me coming out of the paddock, ‘No one’s going to want the lead except the [Clash and Cash] and [Swagger Jagger]. I’m going to stay right behind them,’” trainer David Fawkes said. “I said, ‘Ride your race. Warm him up good and remember that when he gets the lead he tends to wait.”

Everything went according to plan. Lopez position Galleon Mast directly behind pacesetter Clash and Clash and stalker Swagger Jagger around the first turn and along the backstretch. Although he lacked room on the turn into the homestretch and in the early stretch, Lopez found room to leave the inside in mid-stretch and Galleon Mast kicked in to score a last-ditch nose victory over a game Clash and Cash.

“I was close and waited and waited. In the stretch, I came too close to the rail and he got a little scared and jumped a little bit, but he came back and got it at the wire,” said Lopez, who went on score victories aboard Kroy in the Sprint Preview, Mr. Jordan in the Classic Preview, Lovesick in the Juvenile Fillies Sprint and Vow to Recover in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Class and Clash finished 2 ¾-lengths ahead of Archer Road,

Galleon Mast, who has been first or second in 19 of 29 starts with five third-place finishes, had gone winless in six starts since winning the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream in January while finishing second five times. Most recently, he most recently finished second behind Archer Road in the Mr. Steele Stakes at Gulfstream after a very troubled trip.

“He finally got a good trip. It’s frustrating. I left a lot of money on the track,” Fawkes said. “He’s had some tough trips, so Paco is staying on him now.”

Two races later, P. & G. Stables’ Picara registered a 1 ¾-length triumph in the $75,000 Filly & Mare Turf Preview under jockey Edgard Zayas.

The Todd Pletcher-trained 3-year-old filly was in command throughout the 7 ½-furlong race, setting fractions of 24.34, 49,04 and 1:12.78 for six furlongs on her way to a final clocking of 1:30.28.

Picara had prepped for the Filly & Mare Turf Preview with a two-length optional claiming allowance victory Oct. 14 at Gulfstream Park West in her second start since being transferred to Pletcher. The daughter of With Distinction has won all three of her starts over the Gulfstream Park West turf course.

Southern Sis finished second under Luca Panici, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Warranty and Lopez.

Roy H Sails to Victory in Breeders’ Cup Sprint

3079c64c5a594c54a7b637c3b6a25dfbVictory was second consecutive win in six-furlong test for son of More Than Ready.

Less than two hours after Peter Miller sat down in the Breeders’ Cup press room to field questions about his two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) winner Stormy Liberal Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, the California-based trainer was back in the hot seat.

Click here to read the article from BloodHorse.

Smiling for the camera during his second round of interviews, Miller expressed his appreciation for TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) victor Roy H.

“(He’s) just a sound horse,” Miller said. “Just a real solid, sound horse. He brings it every time, and I couldn’t be more proud. Words don’t even express my feelings.”

Though the field for this year’s Sprint was almost identical to last year’s, the start was considerably more bumpy for Roy H. The 6-year-old More Than Ready gelding hit the wall of his stall in post 9 at the break and wobbled briefly before he could be righted by jockey Paco Lopez.

Promises Fulfilled set the pace on the inside rail but soon faded to second as Roy H found his stride and punched the gas on the outside.

Running on cruise control four wide on the outside, Roy H took command to hit the half-mile mark in :44.21. Straightening out as the field turned for home, the defending winner kept pounding away at the ground, extending the margin from a half-length to three lengths at the top of the stretch.

Rallying from last after drifting at the start, Whitmore cut a path through the pack up the middle in a last-ditch effort to run down the leader as they approached the wire.

Moving with the same speedy clip that earned him the title of champion sprinter last season, Roy H never faltered, crossing the wire 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Whitmore in 1:08.24.

“He charged today,” Lopez said. “That horse won today with no problem. He knows what’s going on today. He dances. He’s very happy today.”

Saturday’s win marked milestones for trainer and jockey. Lopez earned his first victory in the Breeders’ Cup, and Miller became the first trainer to saddle back-to-back winners of the same two races in the 35-year history of the Breeders’ Cup.

“I was a little concerned, actually, when he started moving early on the turn because I had told him, ‘Hey, Paco, it’s a long stretch, just make sure you don’t move too soon,'” Miller said. “But he said this horse was just on fire and loaded from the get-go, from the time he stepped on the track and warmed him up.”

Runner-up Whitmore was followed by favorite Imperial Hint in third. Promises Fulfilled took fourth, 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Limousine Liberal in fifth. B Squared, Distinctive B, Warrior’s Club, and Always Sunshine completed the order of finish.

Impressive enough on its own, the win was made even sweeter for Miller and owners Rockingham Ranch and David A. Bernsen, who went through the loss of their promising sprinter Bobby Abu Dhabi who was reported to have died during training at Del Mar from fractures to vertebrae in his neck, which occurred because of a fall as a result of sesamoid fractures in his right front leg.

“You look at ups and downs in horse racing,” Bernsen said, praising the trainer for leading his team to victory through adversity. “I don’t think anything illustrates it more than what these guys have gone through this year. … But Peter, he deals with these horses every day. So we just turn up, and he’s got them all tuned up for a big run.”

Bred in Kentucky by Ramona S. Bass out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Elusive Quality mare Elusive Diva, Roy H was purchased for $310,000 by Rockingham Ranch from the Wavertree Stables consignment to the 2014 Keeneland April 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. He holds a 9-5-2 record from 22 starts with total earnings of $3,019,765.

“He’s a teddy bear,” Miller said, the emotion evident in his voice. “He’s a love. He just loves to be pet on and loved on. He’s a pleaser. You know, he’s given me more than I could ever give him.

“I think people were writing him off, and someone, one of the East Coast writers, called me and said, ‘You know, Imperial Hint is a different horse this year,’ and they were trying to scare me or something, said he’s the hype horse. I said, ‘Well, the East Coast horses get the hype, and the West Coast horses get the money. So you guys can hype all you want out here, we’ll take the money with us.”

Miller doubles up on repeats as Roy H takes Breeders’ Cup Sprint

BC18.Roy H06.11-3-18.SR_LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Peter Miller made Breeders’ Cup history Saturday at Churchill Downs after defending champion Roy H rallied to a convincing 3 1/4-length triumph over the slow-starting Whitmore in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Imperial Hint, runner-up in the 2017 Sprint and the 8-5 favorite on Saturday, finished third.

Click here to read article from DRF.

Roy H’s victory came a couple of hours after Miller’s Stormy Liberal had successfully defended his title in the Turf Sprint, the Southern California-based horseman becoming the first trainer win back-to-back Breeders’ Cup races with two different horses in the 35-year history of the event. Roy H and Stormy Liberal are both owned in partnership by Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen.

Paco Lopez rode Roy H to victory in the Sprint, giving the journeyman his first ever Breeders’ Cup win. Lopez had lost the mount on Roy H to Kent Desormeaux just prior to the 2017 Breeders’ Cup.

Roy H’s trip on Saturday was reminiscent of the one he parlayed into his one-length victory over Imperial Hint in this race a year ago at Del Mar. Roy H rated just off a rapid early pace set by Promises Fulfilled and forced by Miller’s other entry in the Sprint, Distinctive B. Roy H moved readily to command while kept well out in the track entering the stretch, opened a commanding advantage upon settling for the drive, and was not threatened thereafter.

Whitmore broke slow from his inside post, trailed in the run down the backstretch, advanced near the rail to closer contention entering the stretch before easing out and continuing his rally to finish second. Imperial Hint checked a couple of times in traffic down the backstretch, angled out behind the winner to make a mild run at the top of the stretch but could not sustain the rally, finishing 1 3/4 lengths farther back in third.

Roy H, a 6-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready, returned $7.40 after completing six furlongs over a fast track in 1:08.24.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this horse, words don’t even express my feelings,” Miller said immediately after the race.

“I was a little concerned when he started moving a little early on the turn, because I told Paco it was a long stretch and to make sure he didn’t move too soon,” Miller said. “But he said this horse was just loaded from the moment he stepped on the track and warmed him up. I think the move that sealed it was when [Lopez] saw the horse he had to beat [Imperial Hint] come up inside him, and he made sure that he wouldn’t beat him to the position. Once he got the lead, I looked back and could see nobody was coming and that point I was pretty confident, because I know this horse has a big late kick.”

Miller said the big difference between Roy H’s 2018 campaign and his Eclipse Award-winning season the previous year was the fact he went to Dubai this spring where he finished a game and close third behind Mind Your Biscuits and X Y Jet in the Golden Shaheen.

“It took him a while to get over Dubai and he wasn’t the same horse in the Bing Crosby,” said Miller. “He was stale and flat, so I made some changes. I took him from the second string and moved him back with my first string at San Luis Rey, I changed exercise riders and we also changed jockeys, going back to Paco. It was just the change of pace he needed and it all worked out. I think people were writing him off earlier this year, while building up Imperial Hint. The eastern horses might get the hype, but the western horses get the money.”

Miller did not rule out a return trip to Dubai for either Roy H or Stormy Liberal, both 6-year-old geldings, in 2019.

“Both these horses are very sound, they are easy on themselves, and as long as they enjoy their jobs, like they obviously do right now, we’ll just keep going,” said Miller.

Trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. said he thought Imperial Hint ran well, but that jockey Javier Castellano told him “he was just spinning his wheels” when asked to run.

“It just seems he doesn’t handle Churchill Downs’s track very well,” said Carvajal in reference to the fact Imperial Hint has not finished better than third in three starts under the twin spires.

Roy H Repeats in Santa Anita Sprint Championship

cfbd2679912f4bf887dcc3897889f1caIn the sometimes chaotic world of sprinting, Roy H has found a way to calm the waters.

Confidently ridden by Paco Lopez, the champion delivered a cool victory in the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G1) Oct. 6 at the Arcadia, Calif., track, winning the six-furlong race for a second year in a row.

Click here to read article from Blood Horse.

Roy H settled in third, three wide, as his Peter Miller stablemate Distinctive B raced through a quarter-mile in :22.45 while pressed by Horse Greedy. Roy H, a 6-year-old More Than Ready gelding, then rallied three wide in the Santa Anita Park turn to pull even through a half-mile in :45.45 before being asked for his best to hold off an attempted rally by Ransom the Moon .

Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen’s Roy H completed the race in 1:09.09 on a fast track, returning $4, $2.80, and $2.10 as the even-money favorite. He earned the third top-level score of his career. Distinctive B finished second, a half-length in front of Ransom the Moon.

“He was very light-footed today, but I didn’t want to send him, so I waited a little bit,” Lopez said. “He’s an easy horse ride. You can place him pretty much anywhere, but you can take a hold if you want and wait to let him run.”

The Santa Anita Sprint Championship is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race to the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). A year ago, Roy H used his Santa Anita Sprint Championship victory as a springboard to a one-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint over Imperial Hint at Del Mar, which sealed his year-end honors as Eclipse Award-winning male sprinter. Roy H will look for the Sprint repeat this year at Churchill Downs, where Imperial Hint also is expected to run.

Roy H was bred by Ramona S. Bass out of the Elusive Quality mare Elusive Diva, and was purchased by Rockingham from Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables at the Keeneland April 2014 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. He was pinhooked to that sale by Dunne for $115,000 from Claiborne Farm’s consignment to the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Miller was glad to see Roy H race well off his runner-up finish in the Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) July 28 at Del Mar. That effort marked his first start since finishing third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News (G1) March 31 at Meydan. He prepared for Saturday’s test with a series of works at San Luis Rey.

“Ruben (Alvarado), my assistant, has done a phenomenal job with him up here for two years, but he just seemed stale to me,” Miller said. “I think he just needed a change of pace and a change of scenery, so we brought him back to San Luis Rey. I think it’s picked his head up a bit. This is the Roy H I’ve been waiting to see all year.”

Roy H locks in BC Sprint spot with Sprint Championship

Roy H ti1 200ARCADIA, Calif. – The Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship in early October seems to arrive at the right time of year for Roy H.

Click here to read article DRF.

Last year, Roy H won his first Grade 1 race in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship and followed with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar. He was later named the champion sprinter of 2017.

Roy H won for the first time on Saturday since February, and ended a two-race losing streak, with a commanding win in the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. He earned a fees-paid berth for the BC Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.

The victory erased the disappointment of a second to Ransom the Moon as the favorite in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar in July. Ransom the Moon was third in Saturday’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship.

Ridden by Paco Lopez, Roy H ($4) won Saturday’s race by 2 3/4 lengths over Distinctive B, finishing six furlongs in 1:09.09.

“He ran the way I thought he would,” said trainer Peter Miller said.

The first two finishers are trained by Miller for Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch, which co-owns Roy H with David Bernsen.

Lopez was aboard Roy H for the first time since a troubled second in the 2017 Bing Crosby.

“I had the best horse in the race,” Lopez said.

Lopez, who rides primarily in Miami, gave Roy H a confident ride. Roy H was third in the first half-mile, stalking Distinctive B through an opening quarter-mile in 22.45 seconds. Roy H was within a half-length of Distinctive B with a quarter-mile remaining when Lopez looked over his shoulder to check the status of Ransom the Moon.

Ransom the Moon, the 3-2 second choice, was racing three-wide on the turn and never threatened Roy H.

“I was waiting for” Ransom the Moon, Lopez said. “At the eighth-pole, I asked him and he gave me a big kick.”

Distinctive B finished a half-length in front of Ransom the Moon, who was followed by Edwards Going Left and Horse Greedy.

Roy H, a 6-year-old gelding by More Than Ready, has won 8 of 21 starts and earned $1,919,765. Saturday’s race was his fifth stakes win.

You’re to Blame catches War Story in Greenwood Cup

09-03-18 P 08 You're To Blame FIN 01You’re to Blame kept front-running favorite War Story in his sights early and then outfought him late to score a neck victory in the 1 1/2-mile Greenwood Cup, the first of two stakes at Parx Racing on Monday.

Click here to read article from DRF.

When the gates opened, War Story shot to the front and opened a sizable lead in the Grade 3, $200,000 marathon while being kept well out from the inner rail by jockey Kendrick Carmouche. You’re to Blame moved closer to War Story while coming down the stretch the first time through fractions of 25.21 and 51.12.

Jockey Paco Lopez sent You’re to Blame up inside War Story, who remained well out in the track, after a mile in 1:42.67. The two alternated on the lead from there, with You’re to Blame proving the strongest along the rail in the final sixteenth of a mile.

Big Dollar Bill, who never got within earshot of the top two, finished third, 3 3/4 lengths behind War Story, the 3-5 favorite.

You’re to Blame paid $10.40 as the third choice in the group of seven. He was timed in 2:32.40.

The Greenwood Cup, named for the group that operates Parx, is the first stakes win for You’re to Blame, a 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor who is trained by Todd Pletcher. You’re to Blame came into the Greenwood Cup off a Saratoga victory in a high-level optional-claiming race at 1 1/8 miles, which equaled the longest distance at which he had raced prior to Monday.

You’re to Blame is now 5 for 18 in his career.

Hard Study, also trained by Pletcher, weakened to finish fifth at 7-2. He moved up outside You’re to Blame on the backstretch but could not keep pace in the final half-mile.

Amapola goes out a winner in Incredible Revenge Stakes

08-11-18 10 Amapola_IncredibleRevengeStks_001On Saturday at Monmouth Park, Amapola scored the easiest of wins in the $75,000 Incredible Revenge Stakes. The race may be her last.

Amapola is owned by the Lael Stables of Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who purchased her after she was disqualified from a 9 3/4-length debut victory at Gulfstream Park in May 2016. Her career was interrupted by a 17-month layoff, but she has now won three of her last four starts. The Incredible Revenge is her first stakes win.

Click here to read article from DRF.

Amapola’s racing days are coming to a close because she is in foal to Divining Rod, whom the Jacksons raced. Divining Rod won the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland and the Polynesian at Laurel Park and finished second by a head to Connect in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

Divining Rod stood his first season at stud in 2018 for $5,000 at Country Life Farm in Maryland.

Amapola is trained by Arnaud Delacour, who also conditioned Divining Rod.

“She’s about four months pregnant,” Delacour said. “According to the vet, this is the last month she should probably race.”

The Incredible Revenge, a 5 1/2-furlong race, was switched from turf to the main track after two races were run over the course early on the card. The eight-horse field had two early scratches and another two after the surface switch.

“I was actually happy when they switched this to the main track,” Delacour said. “I think it gives her a little bit of an edge on the dirt. She’s a very fast filly, and at 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt, I was confident she would run well.”

Well Acquainted, Unaquoi, and Amapola stacked up on the lead, with Amapola three wide. She readily took the lead on the far turn, then pulled away in the stretch to score by 5 1/2 lengths with Paco Lopez sitting still in the saddle.

The Incredible Revenge was the fourth of Lopez’s five wins Saturday.

“After three furlongs, I let her go, and she took off,” Lopez said. “She was the best filly in the race, no doubt about it. She has a lot of talent.”

Amapola paid $3 as the favorite and was timed in 1:03.83 over a fast main track.

Well Acquainted bested Unaquoi by three-quarters of a length for second. It was a length farther back to 2-1 second choice Always Thinking in fourth.

Red Ruby Wins Delaware Oaks by 13 Lengths

Red RubyTiznow filly followed up her performance in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2).

Sandra Sexton and Brandi Nicholson’s Red Ruby continued her roll in the Mid-Atlantic region with a dominant victory in the $300,000 Delaware Oaks (G3) July 7 at Delaware Park.

Click here to read article from Blood Horse.

After her 4 3/4-length score in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) May 18 at Pimlico Race Course, the Tiznow filly trained by Kellyn Gorder could not have been more impressive in the 1 1/16-mile Oaks.

With an easy move past longshot early leader Prospective Lady as they entered the final turn, Red Ruby went unchallenged in the final stages of the race and coasted to a 13-length victory in 1:42.41 under jockey Paco Lopez.

Second choice Coach Rocks finished a clear second after a rally from fifth and came in eight lengths ahead of third-place finisher Mo Shopping.

Bred in Kentucky by Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton, and Silver Fern Farm, out of the Rubiano mare Caroni, Red Ruby has $438,000 in earnings and a 4-1-0 record from six starts. She started her 2018 season with a victory in the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park Feb. 10 and finished fourth in the Honeybee Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn March 10.

Earlier on the card at Delaware, Tricky Escape earned her third graded win with a 1 1/2-length score in the Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes (G3T). Jon Marshall’s Hat Trick mare, who won the Cardinal Handicap (G3) to close her 2017 season, had been winless in two 2018 starts for former trainer Gerald Iverson and current trainer Lynn Ashby.

Funtastic Speeds to United Nations Upset

Funtastic2Longest shot of four entered by trainer Chad Brown won grade 1 at odds of 23-1.

It wasn’t much of a surprise trainer Chad Brown sent out the winner of the $300,000 United Nations Stakes (G1T) at Monmouth Park June 30.

He is the nation’s top turf conditioner by a wide margin and a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award for outstanding trainer, and he sent out four of nine starters in the 1 3/8-mile turf stakes.

Click here to read article from Blood Horse.

FuntasticWhat was a stunner on a brutally hot day at the Jersey Shore was which of his four uncoupled starters crossed the wire first. Even though Brown sent out the top three betting choices in the race, it was Funtastic who made a laughingstock of his 23-1 odds and posted a gate-to-wire, half-length victory over stablemate Money Multiplier. It was the first grade 1 win for both the 4-year-old More Than Ready colt and rider Antonio Gallardo.

“I really can’t remember winning a turf race at those odds,” Brown said with a smile. “Maybe it was in my first year of training.”

Considering Brown started training in 2007 and has amassed more than $130.8 million in earnings, that covers a lot of ground, and the Three Chimneys Farm colt certainly took an unusual path to a grade 1 victory. The United Nations was his graded stakes debut in his ninth start, and he was last seen May 26, when he won a second-level optional-claiming allowance at 1 1/2 miles on the Belmont Park turf.

“I was pleasantly surprised but not shocked,” said Brown, who took special satisfaction in winning a race he said was a personal favorite of his mentor, deceased Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. “I knew it would be a tough race, and the owner, Mr. (Goncalo Borges) Torrealba, deserves all credit. He was sure this horse could stay a distance of ground in grade 1 class.

“I was thinking about the (Woodford Reserve) Manhattan (G1T, June 9 at Belmont), then decided to run in a long allowance race at Belmont, and if he ran well, then maybe the United Nations would be a better race for him. Then as this race approached, I thought this wasn’t going to be easy, either. Mr. Torrealba said, ‘I want to run. Let’s just see how he stands.'”

How Funtastic stands is a candidate for either the Aug. 11 Arlington Million (G1T) at Arlington International Racecourse or the Aug. 25 Sword Dancer (G1T) at Saratoga Race Course, and Gallardo also deserves a large share of the credit for the frontrunning win that put the colt in the spotlight.

“I made the lead easy, and I felt I had a lot of horse. Every time I asked him, he gave me something more and more. I could see he wanted to win,” the rider said.

After a break from the inside post, Gallardo seized control at the start and stayed in front the rest of the way. He set fractions of :48.89 and 1:13.52 through six furlongs. Ahead by two lengths after a mile, the horse who appeared to be a rabbit for his stablemates outfoxed all of them and had enough speed in reserve to hold off Money Multiplier, the 2-1 favorite.

“Antonio rode a wonderful race to take the initiative coming out the race,” Brown said. “He used his horse a little bit to get position and then backed it down enough to carry him all the way. I thought it was a really, really superb ride. It was his first grade 1 win, and I was so happy to be a part of it. He’s really a top rider.”

Bigger Picture, the 2017 United Nations winner, finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Money Multiplier and half a length ahead of Vettori Kin. Brown also finished fifth with Silverwave and eighth with Kurilov. The final time was 2:12.36.

For Gallardo, his first grade 1 victory was a special moment.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I’m a seven-time leading jockey in the United States, and twice I had the second most wins in the United States. I have a grade 2 win, but not a grade 1. Before the race, I told my mother I have to get a grade 1 win. She said, ‘Don’t worry. You’ll get it today.'”

That win was the fourth in nine starts for Funtastic and pushed his earnings to $384,943. Bred by Besilu Stables in Kentucky, out of the Quiet American mare Quiet Dance, Funtastic has the kind of pedigree that boded well for a grade 1 win at some point in the colt’s career, according to his trainer

“He’s an outstandingly bred horse. He’s a half to (2005 Horse of the Year) Saint Liam,” Brown said. “I know he was a dirt horse, but Funtastic was bred in the purple and had a right to be a grade 1 horse on some circuits.”

Earlier on the 13-race Monmouth card that featured four stakes, three scratches reduced the $100,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) field to four and allowed jockey Joe Bravo to “walk the dog” on Harlan Punch.

Bravo put the 5-year-old gelding on the lead at the start and never looked back, as the Kentucky-bred cruised along with a clear lead through comfortable fractions of :48.82 and 1:12.53, then pulled away in the stretch to post a 5 1/4-length score over $1.8 million earner Page McKenney in the mile-and-a-sixteenth stakes.

“I’m probably the biggest Page McKenney fan there is, but when you’ve got a horse that is lone speed, it’s hard to beat,” Bravo said. “He was out there by himself. He ran off with me. He was the best horse, and he was out there by himself. It’s hard to catch a walking dog.”

Owned and trained by David Jacobson and bred by Rosemont Farm, Harlan Punch ended a three-race losing streak and posted his first win since a seven-length victory in the Stymie Stakes March 10 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

A slight 6-5 favorite, Harlan Punch ($4.40) notched his eighth win in 31 starts and increased his earnings to $653,993.

“Joe Bravo rode him perfectly, as he always does for me,” Jacobson said. “A perfect ride, and the race just set up perfectly for us. When that horse gets to the lead, he’s tough. He gets in front and he gets his ears up, he relaxes, and he’s tough to beat. It’s the first of many more graded stakes for him, I hope.”

Brown added to his turf stakes wins earlier in the card when Joseph Allen’s Dream Awhile posted a three-quarter-length victory in the $100,000 Eatontown Stakes (G3T).

A 4-year-old filly, Dream Awhile overcame a stumbling start to rally from fourth in the field of five and fended off a late bid from runner-up Special Event.

A daughter of War Front , the Kentucky homebred posted her first graded stakes win after she finished third in the Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (G2T) at Churchill Downs and second in Suwannee River Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park.

She has four wins in 10 starts, with earnings of $215,689.

In the $75,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes, Divine Miss Grey stretched out to two turns and edged away late under jockey Kendrick Carmouche to prevail by three-quarters of a length over Moonlit Garden.

Claimed for $16,000, Divine Miss Grey, a daughter of Divine Park bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones, has nine wins in 18 starts and earnings of $473,672.

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