The veteran rider was proven correct 1:49.59 later, as his mount Synchrony sat a stalking rail trip before angling out and blowing past the leaders mid-stretch to capture the 1 1/8-mile turf test by 1 3/4 lengths over runner-up Arklow.
The Muniz marked the second straight graded stakes win for Synchrony, a Pin Oak Stable homebred who had flaunted his aptitude for the course with a victory in the Feb. 17 Fair Grounds Handicap (G3T). Saturday's score cemented a career turnaround for the 5-year-old son of Tapit who began his racing days on the dirt while under the care of trainer Donnie Von Hemel. Synchrony ran third in both the Smarty Jones Stakes and Lexington Stakes (G3) in 2016.
Since joining the barn of Michael Stidham and trying turf for the first time last March at Fair Grounds, the chestnut horse has won three of his last five outings and has not been worse than second over his preferred surface.
"I couldn't say any more about this horse and what he has become now," Stidham said. "We think the sky is the limit for this horse, and, hopefully, if he's OK and comes out of this well, we'll go for some big-game races."
Although Synchrony came from well back during his two-length win in the Fair Grounds Handicap, Bravo and Stidham noted the course has been playing more favorably to speed of late, so they made the call to keep their charge closer to the pace Saturday. The 3-1 favorite in the 11-horse field obliged, getting out well from the inside post and sitting in the second flight just off the early fractions of :23.67 and :48.81 set by 91-1 longshot Zulu Alpha, who had Mr. Misunderstood and Forge (GB) pressing the issue down the backside.
Zulu Alpha was still game as Forge upped his challenge around the final turn, but Bravo moved Synchrony out at the five sixteenths and roused his partner home five wide into the stretch on their way to a handy victory over a course rated firm.
"The turf course has been playing differently, and there wasn't much pace in there," Bravo said. "The minute the gates cracked open a bit, he was gone. It makes it so much fun when you are just sitting there watching everyone unfold. This was one of the tests in his book, and let's see what the future holds."
Synchrony paid $8, $4.60, and $3.60 in earning his fifth win from 12 starts to bolster his earnings to $438,102. Arklow held for second—paying $10.60 and $7.60—with Zulu Alpha doing well to stay on for third and pay $25.20 to show. Mr. Misunderstood and Ring Weekend rounded out the top five.
Bred in Kentucky, Synchrony is out of the Forest Wildcat mare Brownie Points, a Pin Oak homebred herself who was a graded stakes winner.