Pin Oak Stable's homebred Synchrony earned his first graded stakes victory in style when he edged favored Mr. Misunderstood in the stretch to take the $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap (G3T) by two lengths Feb. 17.
The 1 1/8-mile turf test at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots was the first race in almost nine months for the 5-year-old son of Tapit . The Michael Stidham trainee was last seen finishing second in the Red Bank Stakes (G3T) at Monmouth Park last May.
"Certainly we were hoping for an effort like this, and we got it, but this was a plan that started way back in the summer. ... We all got together and decided to give the horse some time and it paid off," Stidham said.
"We're excited to have him back in this good form and hopefully it will carry throughout the year."
In Saturday's test, Thatcher Street took the early lead and led the field of 12 through an opening quarter-mile in :23.22 before relinquishing control to Great Wide Open, who surged up to take over. Bumped at the start, Synchrony and jockey Joe Bravo settled at the back of the pack, running in 10th as a half-mile went in :47.44 and six furlongs in 1:12.47.
After going four wide on the second turn, Synchrony rolled into the stretch seven-wide and ran alongside Mr. Misunderstood, under jockey Florent Geroux, to rally past their rivals. But, it was Synchrony who managed to edge clear to win by two lengths in a final time of 1:48.82 over the firm turf.
In his first try against older competition and coming in with a five-race win streak, Mr. Misunderstood settled for second. Tiz a Slam was five lengths back in third after closing from seventh. Also rallying from the rear of the field was High Noon Rider, who finished a length back in fourth.
The winner returned $11, $4.80, $4.20 across the board.
Although he entered off a layoff, Synchrony only finished off the board once in his four starts of 2017 and twice finished second in two stakes events. At 3, he ran third in the Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland and in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park, both on dirt.
The chestnut horse is out of the grade 3-winning and grade 1-placed Forest Wildcat mare Brownie Points, another Pin Oak homebred. He improved his record to 4-3-2 from 11 starts and increased his earnings to $258,102.