-By Keith Jones
Parx Racing celebrated Labor Day with a 10 race program featuring two of its premier stakes of the season, the G3 $300,000 Turf Monster Handicap, a five furlong turf sprint and the G3 $200,000 Greenwood Cup, a mile and a half main track marathon. Both would be decided the final strides.
The Turf Monster Stakes was won for the second consecutive time and third time overall by Patricia Generazio’s Pure Sensation. The seven year-old gelded of Zensational won the race in 2015 and 2017 and Monday simply would not be denied. With the inside post in the field of eight, jockey Kendrick Carmouche hustled Pure Sensation out of there and quickly got to the front. At his neck on the outside was the speedy filly, Smiling Causeway, who, after winning the Turf Amazon here in July, came back to take on the boys. The two flashed past the opening quarter in 22.44 over a course listed as good, with Vision Perfect sitting three wide and only one length behind. Rounding the far turn, Smiling Causeway stayed right with Pure Sensation while Vision Perfect gained ground to make it three across the track at the top of the stretch. Straightening away, Smiling Causeway was the first to give way, and as they raced into the last furlong, absolutely nothing separated Pure Sensation and Vision Perfect. Two turf sprinter racing full out, fighting valiantly to get to the wire in front. In mid-stretch, it appeared Vision Perfect poked a head in front, but Pure Sensation was not done. He fought right back, was on even terms again with a sixteenth to go and then was simply the stronger horse in the deciding yards. As the two came to the finish, Pure Sensation had a neck in front, having run the five furlongs with intense pressure every step of the way, determined and courageous when it mattered most. The win also gave trainer Christophe Clement the third Turf Monster win of his career. Off as second choice at 7-2, Pure Sensation paid $9.00, 5.60, 3.20. Vision Perfect (5-1) did everything but win and paid 6.00 and 4.00. Rainbow Heir (6-1) closed well through the stretch, finishing a half-length behind Vision Perfect and paid 4.00 to show. The final time was :56.42.
The Greenwood Cup turned into a terrific stretch battle between heavy favorite War Story (3-5) and You’re to Blame (4-1). Breaking from the inside gate, War Story was sent immediately to the front by jockey Kendrick Carmouche and around the first of three turns, quickly moved out to a four length lead. Sensing maybe the outer part of the track was better, Carmouche kept War Story three or four paths off the rail throughout. Alone on the lead he was able to establish a very comfortable pace, the first quarter in 25.21, the opening half in 51.12. You’re to Blame, under Paco Lopez, sat second, staying instead down on the inside of the race track, and moving through the stretch the first time, Lopez closed the gap down to only one length. War Story made his way to the backstretch and again edged away to a clear two length lead. Knowing the pace had been slow, Lopez made the decision to send You’re to Blame early to engage War Story rather than wait with hopes of running him down in the late stages. With room on the inside, You’re to Blame came up to the neck of War Story with a little less than a half mile to go and the two would stay side by side in a desperate fight for command the rest of the way. With War Story still slightly in front passing the quarter pole, You’re to Blame used that inside position to cut the corner at the top of the stretch and draw even. After a long, hard drive, he finally put a head in front of War Story just inside the eighth pole and from there, refused to give it up. Battling gamely to the wire, You’re to Blame hit the line with a neck to the good, winning the first stake of his career in dramatic fashion. Owned by Bortolazzo Stable, the 4 year-old Distorted Humor colt and trained by Todd Pletcher, returned his backers $10.40, 3.20 and 2.80. War Story settled for second and paid 2.20 and 2.10. Big Dollar Bill (10-1) out finished the rest and paid 3.40 to show. The final time was 2:32.40.