Joe Bravo doesn’t ride at Monmouth Park nearly as often as he used to but when he does he generally serves up a reminder of how he became a 13-time riding champion at the track.
“I’m just happy to be home,” said Bravo. “I’m so fortunate to have good people who support me. It keeps everything fun.”
Bravo rode winners for trainers Chad Brown (Elysea’s World), Michael Stidham (Synchrony) and Bill Mott (Unionizer in the Sapling Stakes) to give him 10 victories from 24 stakes mounts at Monmouth this summer.
Elysea’s World technically became the first multiple graded stakes winner when she followed her victory in the Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes on July 29 by capturing the Violet Stakes by three-quarters of a length over Viva Vegas, with Bravo rallying the 5-year-old mare through an opening along the rail at the top of the stretch in the mile and an eighth grass stakes.
“She ran great,” said Brown, who watched the race from Saratoga. “Joe rode a terrific race and she responded nicely.”
Sent off as the 1-2 favorite by the crowd of 14,524, Elsyea’s World’s late rally resulted in her third Grade 3 victory in her past five starts.
“She was in full control the whole race,” said Bravo. “She left there easy and comfortably and it just kind of made my job easy. The hardest part about this game is getting them happy and Chad Brown has done a great job getting her happy. You can see she is just enjoying herself out there.”
Synchrony matched the double graded stakes accomplishment of Elysea’s World by shooting through an opening along the rail, charging from fifth to win by 1½ lengths over Abiding Star two races later. The 5-year-old son of Tapit, owned by Pin Oak Stable, won the Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes at Monmouth on July 29 and has now won four graded stakes races in his last six starts, all with Bravo aboard.
Stidham said Synchrony would likely be pointed next to the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 6.
“We needed to see something like today to give us confidence to run in the Shadwell Mile and hopefully the Breeders’ Cup,” said Stidham. “This was the same ride as last time, with the way the rail opened for Joe. I got a little worried late but then he exerted himself and kicked forward. Joe fits him like a glove. Obviously he knows him and Joe gets the most out of him.”
Synchrony covered the mile on the grass in 1:33.61
Bravo capped his big day by winning the $75,000 Sapling Stakes at a mile on the dirt for 2-year-olds, with Unionizer scoring by 1½ lengths over 6-5 favorite Successful Zip
It marked the second win in three starts for the son of Union Rags-Mind Eraser.
“The thing I love about Monmouth Park is you can see a superstar 2-year-old come out of here at any time. You really can,” said Bravo. “I’m not saying this is going to be tomorrow’s Justify but, wow, he was impressive today. He went out there a little green, nothing major, then he had a stride that was totally in control. He pretty much made my race easy.”
Unionize paid $7.00 to win as the second choice.
Decorated Ace, ridden by Hector Diaz, Jr., surprised in the $75,000 Sorority Stakes at a mile on the grass for 2-year-old fillies, entering the race as a maiden and emerging as a stakes winner.
“I thought she was going to give it a heck of a try,” said trainer Brenda McCarthy. “She is so full of training and wants to run and enjoys it so much and wants to get out in the morning. She always wants to be the first one out there in the morning. I think she’s versatile. I knew she could come off the pace. We’ve worked her behind horses and she does great.
“I know she was a maiden coming into this but I always thought she was a nice filly. You have to give them a chance if you think a lot of them. It worked out great. This made my summer.”
Decorated Ace returned $20.20 to win. Malocchio and Sweet Sami D finished in a dead-heat for second, another 1¼ lengths back.