After finishing off the board in his first two starts this year, Amerman Racing's homebred Oscar Performance is back to his winning ways.
Last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T) winner found the winner's circle again June 3, when he took the $200,000 Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3T) gate to wire to score by 1 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park.
"I'm thrilled to see him back in action," said winning trainer Brian Lynch, who added that the ridgling is being pointed toward the grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational July 8. "You're always worried about being a one-trick pony as a 2-year-old and the (Breeders' Cup) Juvenile Turf curse, but he had been training so solidly in between, I've just got to put it down to the soft turf courses in Kentucky.
"He certainly liked (the conditions) today. I think he got some relatively kind fractions that if he was back to his best, he was going to quicken off them and he did. I think he really finished nice. He got the mile and an eighth today and there's no reason to say that he won't get the mile and a quarter."
In the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds over the firm inner turf Saturday, Oscar Performance and jockey Jose Ortiz went for the lead in the early stage of the race. Secretary at War and Bowies Hero raced closely in second and third, respecitvely, in the seven-horse field, as 4-5 favorite Good Samaritan ran at the back of the pack.
The leader galloped easy on the front and set fractions of :24.43, :49.92, and 1:14.74 through six furlongs. Around the far turn, Good Samaritan went wide in an attempt to catch up, but Ortiz used his inside position to his advantage and shook the reins at Oscar Performance, who took off down the stretch. Good Samaritan and Ticonderoga were all out chasing but were no match for the winner who crossed the wire in 1:48.44. Good Samaritan held on for second to get a head over Ticonderoga.
"The last couple of races he was breaking bad and today he broke a little slow, but I was able to get him going early a little better today," Ortiz said. "I think the soft ground was in Kentucky was hurting him. Thankfully, we got firm turf today and he showed up."
Oscar Performance returned $9.80, $4.50, and $3 across the board.
The Kitten's Joy ridgling won the Pilgrim Stakes (G3T) by six lengths at Belmont in October before he took the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. He finished fifth after a slow start in the April 7 Transylvania Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G3T) and then ran 10th in the May 6 American Turf Stakes Presented by Ram Trucks (G2T) at Churchill Downs, where he was bumped at the start and gave way in the stretch.
Out of the stakes winning Theatrical mare Devine Actress, Oscar Performance now boasts a record of four wins from seven starts, with earnings of $847,632.