Trainer Ned Allard was high on Always Sunshine coming into the $150,000 Sagamore Spirit Maryland Sprint Stakes (gr. III), and the Parx Racing shipper did not disappoint May 21 despite the clouds at Pimlico Race Course.
Video: Maryland Sprint H. (G3)
Dashing through the mud under jockey Frank Pennington, Gilbert Campbell's homebred 4-year-old made it two in a row after winning an April 17 allowance at Parx by 11 1/2 lengths when the Pennsylvania track was under an equine herpesvirus quarantine that lifted May 17.
"I was very confident going in," Allard said. "I was really up for this horse's race. He's such a nice horse. He's turned into a monster. He's one of those horses that trains like a good horse, acts like a good horse, and now he has to go out and prove it. He's on his way to doing that."
The son of West Acre also got revenge on New York-based grade I winner Salutos Amigos, who defeated him two starts back in the March 12 Tom Fool Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack but could only manage fifth as the 6-5 favorite this time out.
"I had a good trip, but I had no horse," Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez said of Salutos Amgios' disappointing run, his first loss on an off track. He was previously 7-for-7 on wet tracks.
Always Sunshine moved up from fourth after chasing the pace set by Cinco Charlie behind fractions of :23.54, :46.75, and :58.46, and passed All Star Red, who held for second 2 1/2 lengths back. Rockinn On Bye was third behind a final time of 1:10.49 for six furlongs on a muddy track.
"He was doing it very comfortably and easily," said Pennington. "At the quarter-pole, I asked him, he took off and did it easily. The track is great and he handled it beautifully. I like him a lot."
Always Sunshine is out of the Awesome Again mare Sunny Again, and improved his record to 5-3-2 from 11 starts.
Allard was looking for an even bigger win later on the card; Preakness Stakes (gr. I) contender Abiding Star also comes from his barn.