George and Lori Hall's 5-year-old Pants On Fire took over in a marred edition of the $203,000 Monmouth Cup (gr. II) (VIDEO) July 28 at Monmouth Park, winning the 1 1/16-mile test after 3-5 favorite Take Charge Indy was suddenly pulled up by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.
Stevens, who said he heard a "loud pop" when Take Charge Indy was leading the field by 2 1/2 lengths through a :47.43 half, quickly eased the 4-year-old grade I winner out of contention. A splint was applied to Take Charge Indy's left front leg, and the A.P. Indy colt was vanned off the racetrack.
Digital radiographs revealed a condylar fracture of Take Charge Indy's left foreleg; he was to be taken for immediate surgery, according to a report from WinStar Farm.
At the moment of the incident, Pants On Fire was able to dive to the inside after tracking the pace six lengths back in third behind Big Sur, who pressed along in second behind Take Charge Indy's opening quarter of :23.97.
The Kelly Breen trainee assumed command soon after Take Charge Indy was pulled up. He was never challenged down the lane, running three-quarters in 1:12.84 and a mile in 1:38.91 before posting a 1 3/4-length win over the late-closing Hymn Book.
Final time for the distance was 1:45.86 on a fast track.
Off at odds of 7-1, Pants On Fire returned $16.20, $6.40, and $4.40 while Hymn Book paid $3.60 and $3.40 with Ponzi Scheme bringing $5.20 in third. Norman Asbjornson, Small Town Talk, and Big Sur completed the order of finish.
Winning jockey Paco Lopez said he stayed to the outside as long as possible with the Jump Start runner, but was able to find the inside spot when Stevens began to pull up.
"He's just a really nice horse," Lopez remarked. "I just tried to keep him on the outside out in the clear because he doesn't like dirt in his face. I had to go inside Gary a bit when he pulled up, but he just kept going and trying hard to the wire."
Pants On Fire, carrying 116 pounds, had not run since a third-place finish in the June 1 Mountainview Handicap at Penn National Race Course.
"He came out of his last race a tired horse," said Breen. "We gave him some time, and he responded today."
Winner of the 2011 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III), also at Monmouth, and of the 2011 Louisaina Derby (gr. II), Pants On Fire collected his third graded stakes score and second victory of 2013. In five starts this season, he also has an allowance victory at Gulfstream Park and two thirds in grade III company there—in the Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) and the Hal's Hope (gr. III).
Pants On Fire was bred in Kentucky by K & G Stables out of the Cape Town mare Cabo de Noche. he improved his record to 7-3-4 from 21 career starts, with earnings of $1,131,060.