Brereton Jones' homebred Albano swiftly moved to challenge the front-runners around the turn and romped away to a 6 1/2-length victory $150,000 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) June 15 at Monmouth Park.
Kerwin Clark settled the son of Istan in third behind Ring Weekend, who outdueled Encryption to lead early in the 1 1/16-mile race. Ring Weekend opened command by 2 1/2 lengths after a half-mile in a snappy :46.50, and Albano began a steady advance down the backstretch to the far turn.
Bidding three-wide, Albano rapidly powered past Encryption and Ring Weekend, the latter suddenly giving way under Daniel Centeno, and took charge before drawing off. As Encryption chased in vain, Ring Weekend was pulled up and did not finish the race but eventually walked off the track.
Albano covered the distance in 1:44.17 on a fast track to earn his first graded-stakes win and third overall from seven career starts. The $90,000 winner's share of the Pegasus purse increased his lifetime bankroll to $308,000.
"I knew they were going really quick early, because my horse has a lot of natural speed and we couldn't keep up," Clark said. "Once I called upon him around the turn, he really answered the question and pulled away impressively."
The Pegasus is a prep for the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational (gr. I), the centerpiece of the Monmouth's racing season, on July 27, and trainer Larry Jones said Albano is already penciled in to start.
"The Haskell is our game plan, but we'll see how it goes," he said. "This horse races pretty good fresh, so if we come to Haskell this was his prep. We've had quite a bit of success at Monmouth, so that's certainly the race we're looking at."
Earlier this year, Kentucky-bred Albano was Jones' hopeful for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), but he was deemed not ready for classic competition after a disappointing effort in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), in which he finished fourth after a disqualification. He closed last season with a win in the Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and started on the Triple Crown trail with second-place finishes in the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) and Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) in his starts before the Louisiana Derby.
Albano is out of multiple stakes winner Pocho's Dream Girl, by Fortunate Prospect, and is a half brother to multiple graded-stakes winner Mark Valeski.
Albano paid $4.60, $2.80 and $2.40 as the odds-on favorite, and Encryption returned $3.60 and $3. Lynx paid $3.40 as the third-place finisher, 6 1/4 lengths behind Encryption.