Parx Horses Defend Home Turf on Labor DayParx horsemen held their own in the big Labor Day stakes events, running one-two in the Turf Amazon, as well as second in both the G3 Greenwood Cup and G3 Smarty Jones Stakes.
In the $300,000 Turf Monster Handicap, Sharp Sensation rallied from just off the pace and took the lead inside the eighth pole, then gallantly held off the late charge of the incomparable Ben’s Cat to win by a neck. Away in good order under jockey David Moran, Sharp Sensation was fifth in the first of the five furlongs in the Turf Monster, but gained a couple spots as the field moved inside the final three-eighths. Bold Thunder had the lead chased by long shot Berlino Di Tiger moving to the quarter pole, but with a strong, sudden three wide move, Sharp Sensation ran at those two and took the lead turning for home. He carried a clear lead inside the last furlong, a good five lengths in front of Ben’s Cat, who was now hitting his best stride in the middle of the course. There was simply too much ground to make up. Sharp Sensation stayed on well to the finish and got the nod by a solid neck on the wire. Owned by Jim and Susan Hill and trained by Canadian great Reade Baker, Sharp Sensation got overlooked by the betting public, went off at 16-1 and paid $34.80 to win. The final time over a turf course listed as good was 57.39.Late running room and a tremendous late burst carried Protonico to victory in the $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes. The 3 year-old Giant’s Causeway colt under Joe Bravo sat in between horses in the second flight of runners for a good portion of his trip through the one mile and seventy yards. With 7-5 favorite Albano on his inside and watching the speed begin to fold in front of him, Bravo had no choice but to watch Albano get first run as the rail opened up and Albano had the lead as they turned for home. Longshot Classic Giacnroll, trained by Lisa Guerrero, was able to follow the move of Albano and was in position to run at the favorite with an eighth of a mile remaining. As Albano drifted out, Classic Giacnroll rallied on the inside and had the lead with only a sixteenth to go. But by mid-stretch, Bravo had finally found running room for Protonico who was now in the clear and absolutely flying on the outside. Protonico caught Classic Giacnroll just before the finish and scored the first stakes victory of his career, winning by half a length. Trained by Todd Pletcher, he went off at 7-2 and paid 9.20 to win. The final time was 1:41.17. The big upset of the day came in the $200,000 Greenwood Cup. Under a brilliant ground saving ride by Miguel Mena, Cary Street surged past Ever Rider with a sixteenth of a mile to go and edged away late to win at 25-1. Unhurried in the one mile and one-half test, Mena guided his horse down to the rail in the opening stages and rode the rail the entire trip. Slipping through inside of horses through the middle portion of the race, Cary Street gradually worked his way up into contention as the field rounded the far turn. With a quarter mile to go, he had only one horse left to pass, the Marya Montoya-trained Ever Rider, who had taken the lead with five furlongs remaining. There was an opening on the inside of Ever Rider as they turned for home, Mena sent his mount up in there and battled down the stretch, finally wearing down Ever Rider late and winning by a full length. Racing for JBL Thoroughbreds and Walsh Racing and trained by Brendan Walsh, Cary Street paid $58.20 to win and finished the distance in 2:30.71.
The $200,000 Turf Amazon Handicap went to West Point Thoroughbreds’ Quality Lass. The 5 year-old daughter of Exclusive Quality outsprinted the other eleven fillies and mares and led the way to the top of the stretch. Two of her main rivals, Spun Cap and Jewel of a Cat were both poised to run by her turning for home, but Quality Lass dug in gamely and turned back both. Inside the final sixteenth, suddenly Joya Real, who had gotten off to a very poor start, was closing fast on the inside, but again, to no avail. The wire came first and the dramatic photo went to Quality Lass. Trained by Guadalupe Preciado and ridden by John Bisono, she went off at 8-1, paid $18.00 to win and covered the five furlongs over the good turf in 57.71. Kate DeMasi, trainer of Joya Real, sportingly gave Preciado a congratulatory handshake after the race, and said that she was looking forward to a rematch.