Mack Fehsenfeld's 8-year-old Key Lory overcame an eight-month layoff to earn his fourth consecutive victory in Saturday's $100,000 Red Bank Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth Park. Under Harry Vega. Key Lory completed the mile in 1:35.92 on the firm turf course.
Key Lory's current winning streak is comprised of all stakes races, including last year's Oceanport Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth. The Dennis J. Manning-trained son of Key to the Mint earned $60,000 for the win, his 10th in 21 career races.
"I was a little concerned because it was a tough race and it was his first start in a long time, but he's such a great old horse I thought he would come through," Manning said. "Now if he comes out of the race OK, and Harry (Vega) will come to ride, he'll go next in the Oceanport (June 15). This was step one in our plan to get him to the United Nations Handicap (grade 1, July 6)."
Key Lory sprinted up from the outside post to challenge Pyrus for the early lead, then pushed to a clear advantage as they entered the backstretch.
"I didn't want to let anyone get away with an easy lead when I knew that my horse could take control and set the fractions," said Vega. "He loves the grass and he loves Monmouth Park."
Sardaukar closed from seventh to finish second, a length behind Key Lory. Spruce Run was another length back in third, a head-length ahead both One Eyed Joker and Boastful, who finished on even terms for fourth. Dog Tags, Pyrus, and Mr. Livingston completed the order of finish.
Key Lory returned $10.80, $7.60, and $5.40 and topped the $133 exacta. Sardaukar paid $11.20 and $6.40. Spruce Run paid $8.60 to show.
Elmendorf Farm bred Key Lory from the Halo mare Halory. He is a half-brother of Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II) winner Halory Hunter, Delaware Oaks (gr. III) winner Brushed Halory, and National Jockey Club Handicap (gr. III) winner Prory. He is from the same female family as two-time grade I winner Strategic Maneuver and Saturday's Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) pacesetter Essayons. (Chart, Equibase