War Monger Comes From Back to Take Rutgers

Peter Vegso’s War Monger was in last place after a half-mile, but made a decisive move along the far turn and rallied to take the $100,000 Rutgers University Stakes by a length-and-a-half on the Monmouth Park turf Oct. 24.

It was the first stakes victory for the son of War Chant, who shortened up to a 1 1/16-mile after trying a longer distance in the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT) Oct. 6, when he finished fourth in that nine-furlong event at Belmont Park.

Trained by Bill Mott, War Monger was more than seven lengths off the pace after four furlongs, which was set by Jeff Singer’s Bujagali in :48.53. Bujagali continued to lead after a 1:36.03 mile, but War Monger, who started his five-wide move just before the three-quarters pole, was now second.

With Kent Desormeaux riding, War Monger took the lead as they straightened away and willingly held on while Pleasant Strike made a late bid in the final yards.

Out of Half a Year mare Carnival Delight, War Monger won for the third time in six starts. The 3-year-old colt was bred in Florida by Vegso.

Pleasant Strike, trained by Todd Pletcher, finished second, just ahead of Bujagali. The final time was 1:41.82.

Going off at odds as the heavy favorite, War Monger paid $4.80, $3, and $2.40. The exacta (4-5) was worth $25.20.

The race’s second betting choice, Pays to Dream, stumbled badly at the start and lost rider Javier Castellano.

(Chart, Equibase)

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