Isabelle de Tomaso’s homebred Irish Strait grabbed the lead soon after the start and never looked back, wiring his rivals in the Grade 3, $100,000 Red Bank Stakes before a Saturday crowd of 17,524 at Monmouth Park.
The older-brother to Irish War Cry, Irish Strait was making his fourth start of the year in the one mile turf test, as he scored his first victory of the season.
“I didn’t know that’s what he (jockey Bocachica) was planning, but it was a smart move that proved right,” said winning trainer H. Graham Motion. “This horse has really improved this year. I knew he hadn’t won yet until today, but those were some very tough races and good ones from him.
“This might be his optimal distance, but you never know, we may try him longer, especially if he keeps improving as the year progresses.”
After setting an easy opening quarter of :24.27, Irish Strait was able to slow things down a bit up the backstretch, posting a half-mile in :48.98. Turning for home, rider Orlando Bocachica asked his mount for his best and the duo opened up to post a 2 ¼-length victory.
The winner returned $21.40, $10.40 and $6.20 and topped a $93.60 exacta. Synchrony rallied up the fence for second, paying $5.20 and $3.20. It was another 2 ¼ lengths back to Rose Brier, who paid $3.60 to show. All Included, the 2-1 favorite in the field of 10, checked in eighth.
Irish Strait is a 5-year-old gelding by English Channel from the blue hen mare Irish Sovereign. The New Jersey-bred now sports a record of 5-0-5 from 17 career starts, good for earnings of $236,138. The Red Bank marked the first graded stakes win for Irish Strait.
Saturday’s card saw a string of high-priced runners round out the late Pick 5, resulting in a carryover of $22,795.69 into Sunday’s early Pick 5, which kicks off in the first race. Saturday’s sequence started with Twofour Six Oh One ($13.60), followed by Lucky Lindy ($12.80), Light’s Gone Wild ($26.60), Irish Strait and Chub Scout ($9) in the finale. Four of five returned $172.65.
In addition to the Pick 5 carryover kicking off Sunday’s 9-race live card, Monmouth Park will be hosting Day 2 of the Food Truck Festival, featuring over 40 mobile culinary stations. Gates open Sunday at 11 a.m., with first post set for 12:50 p.m.
Source: Monmouth Park