Crossed Sabres Farm's Valid, a major pace factor in his previous three starts in stakes, finally broke through with a victory in the $211,000 Monmouth Cup (gr. II) (VIDEO) for 3-year-olds and up at Monmouth Park July 27.
It was the first stakes win for Valid, a 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro gelding trained by Marcus Vitali and ridden by Orlando Bocachica. He finished a good third after pressing the pace in the Salvator Mile (gr. III) at Monmouth in his last start.
The first mile of the 1 1/16-mile Monmouth Cup closely resembled the first seven furlongs of the July 6 Salvator Mile, which was won by the classy Itsmyluckyday . Bradester was second, a nose ahead of Valid on a track rated fast in the quickly run Salvator Mile.
The conditions were similar July 27, and again it was Bradester who took the early lead while being closely shadowed by Valid through an opening quarter-mile in :24.03, a half-mile in :48.21, and six furlongs in 1:11.72. They stayed that way until the top the stretch, where Valid squeezed by for a slim lead, fought off his inside challenger, and slowly pulled away to win by a half-length in 1:41.43 on a fast track.
Bradester was second by 4 3/4 lengths over Pants On Fire, who made his first start since the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) last December. Pick of the Litter finished fourth, and 2-1 pick Long River was fifth in a race devoid of movement.Vegas No Show, Sailor's Revenge, Easter Gift, and Raging Daoust followed.
Valid, whose time for the 1 1/16 miles was a little more than a second off the track record, paid $10.80, $6.20, and $4 across the board. Bradester paid $7.20 and $4.40, while Pants On Fire returned $3.80. The exacta paid $62.60 and the $1 trifecta $203.40.
"He ran really good today," Bocachica said. "Last time I rode him I went too fast and went head-to-head. This race I just let him go. Everything set up perfectly. He's a really great horse."
Said Vitali, who has excellent win and in-the-money percentages at the Monmouth meet: "Orlando did a great job. I told him to lay close to the pace, not get too far behind the leader, and he did just that. My horse really showed up today. He ran super."
Valid, bred in Virginia by Edward P. Evans out of the Grand Slam mare Grand Prayer, began 2014 with two allowance victories at Gulfstream Park. He then finished fifth in the Pimlico Special (gr. III) and just missed by a nose to Last Gunfighter in the Mountainview Handicap. He has raced at Monmouth the last two times.