GSP Racing Stable's Well Spelled became a first-time graded winner when he rallied through the stretch at Monmouth Park July 14 to capture the $101,000 Jersey Shore Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO).
First at the start but taken back to last in a field of six sophomores going six furlongs, the Ben Perkins Jr.-trained Well Spelled trailed a pace set by 50-1 shot Rass Stone, who went the quarter in :22.52 and a half in :46.08. Heading into the stretch, Cape Cod Canal made a 3-wide bid to gain a brief lead for five-eighths in :58.42, but Well Spelled swung four wide under jockey Pablo Fragoso and took command just after the eighth pole.
The duo pulled clear late to a driving 1 1/2-length victory in a final time of 1:11.17 on the fast track. Cape Cod Canal hung on for second and Scaramagna stayed on another half-length back in third. Isn't He Clever, the even-money favorite, checked in fourth after a troubled trip.
"Benny told me to warm him up good," Fragoso said. "When the gates opened, he popped out on top, so I just waited for the speed to pass me. I didn't mind coming with a wide run; the rail has not been the place to be today. He came closing with his run down the outside and wore that other horse down. I was real impressed with him today."
The 3-year-old son of Spellbinder, making his graded stakes debut in the Jersey Shore, was third last time out in an allowance optional claimer at Monmouth June 24. His Jersey Shore victory was the second for Perkins, who won the inaugural running in 1992 with Surely Six.
"He broke really sharp and Pablo let him settle going down the backside," Perkins remarked. "As soon as he started to level off and move with the favorite, I knew we had a lot of horse. With the way the track's been playing and the fact he's been training over it, we thought that would help him a lot and it did. He ran hard. It took him a while to get the right style of running, and now that he's got that, it definitely helped him."
Well Spelled returned $13.20, $4.80, and $3.40. Cape Cod Canal brought $4.20 and $3.40. Scaramagna paid $4.80. Isn't He Clever, Wildcat Creek, and Rass Stone completed the order of finish.
Bred in Kentucky by Joanne R. Mummert out of the Well Decorated mare Well, the gray colt improved his career earnings to $161,740 for his connections. He now has a 3-3-2 record from nine career starts, all three victories coming in six starts in 2012.