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.