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Le Bernardin Gamely Captures Pegasus

Le Bernardin dug in down the lane to gamely capture the Grade 3 $100,000 Pegasus Stakes as Inspired posted a front-running score in the $60,000 Fort Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sunday before a record Father’s Day crowd of 27,532.

“Monmouth Park has certainly stamped itself the place to be on Father’s Day,” said Bob Kulina, president of Darby Development LLC, operators of the racetrack. “We are thankful for the great crowd that came out to the races and enjoyed a terrific afternoon of family fun and racing. We can only hope to continue to build on this great success for years to come.”

Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Le Bernardin covered the mile-and-a-sixteenth in 1:44.51 on a fast track to prevail by a neck in the prep race for the Grade 1 $1 million Haskell Invitational to be run here on Sunday, July 29.

Sent off at 5-1 in the field of seven 3-year-olds and carrying 116 pounds, Le Bernardin returned $12, $5.40 and $3.40 across the board and topped the $61.20 exacta. Easter Gift paid $4.60 to place and $3 to show.  It was another length-and-a-quarter back to even-money favorite Good Morning Diva, who returned $2.40 to show. 

“He just kept running,” said winning jockey Mike Luzzi. “I was having trouble with him early and I put him into the race on the outside so he wasn’t getting dirt in his face. I really had to keep after him because he kept trying to lug in. It was surprising because he’d never done that in his races before, but he’s only been out a handful of times. I was just trying to get him to focus and kept him on his task all the way to the wire.”

By Bernardini from the Wild Again mare La Rosa, the Darley Stable homebred improved his lifetime mark to three wins from five starts. With the winner’s share of the purse, the first time stakes-winning colt has now earned $146,000.

“It was a great win and an excellent ride by Mike Luzzi,” said McLaughlin. “The horse seemed to be lugging in for much of the race, but Mike did a great job. I’ve never noticed that he’s been a tough horse to ride in the past, but Mike knows him well and did a great job today. The Haskell is obviously a race we’ll look at after we see how he comes out of this.”

Easter Gift closed strongly through the lane to engage the winner in a three-way stretch duel with Good Morning Diva, but Le Bernardin proved best.

“We’ll definitely have to think about the Haskell after his race today,” said Nick Zito, trainer of Easter Gift. “He handled two turns fine and came running at the end. I thought it was a very good race and something we can build off of.”

Tim Hills, the trainer of Good Morning Diva said, “I understand why we were where we were (on the rail). I just wish we weren’t there. The race played out like that. I don’t know about the Haskell. I’ll have to talk that over with the owners.”

In the Fort Monmouth Stakes, Inspired broke on top and never relinquished the lead as she scored a three-quarter length victory over Classy Zip, who was gaining late but could not catch the winner.

Conditioned by Alan Iwinski, Inspired covered the about 5 ½ furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.23 and paid $6.00, $2.60 and $2.40 as the 2-1 second choice in the field of five fillies and mares. Classy Zip completed the $10.20 exacta as the 4-5 favorite and returned $2.40 and $2.10 Witchesofwestfield was another three lengths back in third, good for a $2.60 show mutuel.

“My horse is so fast, that if I let her go, she’ll just run so hard and tire out,” said winning jockey Roberto Alvarado, Jr.  “I let her roll out of the gate and take a light hold. That’s the way you have to ride her. She was cruising along pretty easily and every time I asked her to give me a little more she responded.”

The Fort Monmouth victory was the seventh in 19 attempts for Inspired, a five-year-old daughter of Unbridled’s Song out of the Mt. Livermore mare Proposal. The winner’s share of the purse boosted her lifetime earnings to $307,385 for owner and breeder Peter E. Blum.  


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