Doug O'Neill and Reddam Racing already had one contender in the 3-year-old division entering Labor Day, but before the holiday was over, they may have found another.
After an ideal stalking trip in third behind early leader Colonelsdarktemper, the Creative Cause colt effortlessly hit the front late in the final turn and pulled away with ease in the stretch to win geared down under jockey Mario Gutierrez by six lengths.
After Colonelsdarktemper set fractions of :24.29, :47.84, and 1:11.20 through six furlongs, Pavel took over to run a mile in 1:35.67 and finished off the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.27.
Pavel broke his maiden on debut July 1 at Santa Anita Park going 6 1/2 furlongs, then shipped to Saratoga Race Course, where he finished fourth in the Jim Dandy Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G2) July 29.
"We've loved the horse a lot since last year when he was a 2-year-old," said Leandro Mora, O'Neill's top assistant. "So we had big expectations and we never dropped them."
Although the Smarty Jones is a logical prep for the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) Sept. 23 at Parx, Mora said Pavel is scheduled to return to his Southern California base. Mora said, unless owner Paul Reddam changes his mind, Irap is scheduled to make the trip to Pennsylvania for the $1 million race. Mora said O'Neill and Reddam would soon pick out a spot for Pavel's next race.
Off at nearly 7-2, Pavel humbled a group of highly regarded colts, including favored Battalion Runner and graded winner Hence, who finished second to last and last, respectively, in the six-horse field. Talk Logistics closed from fifth to finish second, a length ahead of Colonelsdarktemper.
Bred by Brereton Jones and WinStar Farm, out of the Maria's Mon mare Mons Venus, Pavel now has $242,400 in earnings from his three starts.
Earlier in the card at Parx, Cheyenne Stables and Mac Nichol's Madefromlucky ended a 12-race winless streak with a dominating 12 1/4-length win in the $200,000 Greenwood Cup Stakes (G3). The 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky completed the 1 1/2-mile test in 2:32.72 to secure his first victory since the 2015 West Virginia Derby (G2).
Completing the grade 3 trio of races at Parx on Monday was the $300,000 Turf Monster, a five-furlong grass sprint, won by Patricia Generazio's homebred Pure Sensation. The 6-year-old Zensational gelding held off a closing drive from 2015 TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) winner Mongolian Saturday to win by a half-length. Pure Sensation is now undefeated in four starts on the Parx grass. He also won the 2015 Turf Monster and won the Parx Dash (G3T) in 2016 and 2017.