Isabelle de Tomaso's homebred Irish Strait grabbed the lead soon after the start of the $100,000 Red Bank Stakes (G3T) May 27 at Monmouth Park and never looked back, wiring his rivals as he picked up his first graded score.
The older half brother to graded stakes-winning 3-year-old Irish War Cry, Irish Strait was making his fourth start of the year for trainer Graham Motion in the one-mile turf test, and scored his first victory of the season under Orlando Bocachica.
"I didn't know if that's what (Bocachica) was planning, but it was a smart move that proved right," Motion said. "This horse has really improved this year. I knew he hadn't won yet until today, but those were some very tough races and good ones from him.
"This might be his optimal distance, but you never know. We may try him longer, especially if he keeps improving as the year progresses."
After setting an easy opening quarter of :24.27, Irish Strait was able to slow things down a bit up the backstretch, posting a half-mile in :48.98. Turning for home, Bocachica asked his mount for his best and the duo opened up to post a 2 1/4-length victory.
The winner returned $21.40, $10.40 and $6.20. Synchrony rallied up the fence for second, paying $5.20 and $3.20. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Rose Brier, who paid $3.60 to show. All Included, the 2-1 favorite in the field of 10, checked in eighth.
Irish Strait is a 5-year-old gelding by English Channel from the blue hen mare Irish Sovereign. The New Jersey-bred now sports a record of 5-0-5 from 17 career starts, good for earnings of $236,138.