Odds-on choice Pants On Fire returned from his unplaced effort in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with a smart two-length victory in the $195,000 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park June 18 (VIDEO).
The victory for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winning connections of owners George And Lori Hall and trainer Kelly Breen should have the 3-year-old son of Jump Start in good shape for the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth July 31.
“The Haskell is a definite possibility,” said Breen, who saddled Ruler On Ice for victory in the Belmont Stakes for the Halls June 11. Breen indicated that Ruler On Ice is also under consideration for the Haskell.
Ridden by Rosie Napravnik, Pants On Fire stalked on the outside in the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus after stumbling at the start, bidding from third on the final turn and taking command in the stretch. Leading by 2 1/2 lengths at mid-stretch, he held sway under urging while coming home in 1:42.89 on a fast track.
“He stumbled a little bit coming out of the gate,” Breen said. “But he didn’t grab himself or lose a shoe -- it was just a little stumble. He was on a loose rein, so I wasn’t sure how much horse (Napravnik) had, but when she moved to the lead he looked strong.”
Concealed Identity, ridden by Chris DeCarlo, ran on well after rallying four-wide to get second by four lengths over pacesetting Turbo Compressor and Mike Luzzi. Harlan's Hello finished fourth, while Clarke Lane was pulled up on the far turn after racing erratically.
Pants on Fire, who was bred in Kentucky by K & G Stables, returned to the winner's circle for the first time since teaming with Napravnik to win the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots March 26.
“He was the best horse in the race,” Napravnik said. “I think around the far turn, the horses in front started to get a little tired, so I just went for the lead. This horse is very special to me. He brought me to the Kentucky Derby, which hopefully won’t be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He’s just a very special horse.”
Pants On Fire went into the Kentucky Derby after a six-week layoff and tired to ninth after stalking the pace into the final turn. He was found to have bled significantly through his lungs after the race but showed no sign of a recurrence after a pair of bullet half-mile workouts at Monmouth. That led to Breen's decision to return the colt to action quicker than he had anticipated.
Out of the Cape Town mare Cabo de Noche, Pants On Fire improved his career mark to 3-3-1 in 10 starts with earnings of $798,100. The Pegasus victory was worth $120,000.
Carrying top weight of 123 pounds, the winner paid $3.20, $2.80, and $2.10. Concealed Identity, rebounding from a 10th-place showing in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 21, returned $5 and $2.40 and capped a $12.40 exacta. Turbo Compressor, who carved early fractions of :23.61 and :47.37, paid $2.20 to show in his graded-stakes debut.
Rush Now scratched.