Juddmonte Farms' favored Three Valleys, returning to action after an absence of 10 months, collared Hotstufanthensome midstretch and went on to win the Oceanport (gr. IIIT) on the Monmouth Park turf course Sunday.
Trained by Bobby Frankel, Three Valleys, a 5-year-old Diesis
horse, was last seen finishing fifth in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland Oct. 8.
Frankel took last year's edition of the Oceanport with Ay Caramba.
After an awkward break, Three Valleys raced mid-pack while near the rail before rallying four wide in the stretch for jockey Ramon Dominguez to win by a long neck in a good stretch drive.
The stalker Hotstufanthensome, ridden by Rajiv Maragh, seized the lead from pacesetter Juniper Knight approaching the eighth pole and opened up a clear advantage before being tackled by the winner.
"My horse had a great trip," Dominguez said. "I wasn't really worried about the pace up front because I was focused on my horse. When I got to the quarter-pole, I had a ton of horse and I knew it was going to be between my horse and (Hotstufanthensome)."
After a slow start, Rebel Rebel -- Edgar Prado aboard -- was unable to escape traffic at the rail until too late and settled for third with a slight late close, three lengths farther back.
The final time for the 1 1/16-mile event on firm going was 1:40.
Juniper Knight led soon after the start and was able to set easy fractions of :24 2/5, :47 3/5 and 1:11 while leading as much as 2 1/2 lengths over Gigawatt.
Three Valleys won the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) 11 months ago and has now recorded three wins in five U.S. starts. The chestnut began his career in Great Britain, where he won the Middle Park Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket as a 2-year-old. The Kentucky homebred, out of the Niniski mare Skiable, improved his record to 5-2-2 in 12 lifetime starts with earnings of $617,338.
Sent off as the slight choice over Rebel Rebel, Three Valleys paid $6.60, $3.80, and $2.80. Hotstufanthensome, who ran second in the Oceanport last year as well, returned $4.20 and $2.80. Rebel Rebel, coming off a 2 1/4-length win in Belmont's one-mile Poker Handicap (gr. IIIT) in his last start, was $3 to show.
Icy Atlantic finished fourth, followed by Bestowed, Juniper Knight, Miracle Man, Gigawatt, Western Revenge, and Dynareign.