OCEANSIDE, NJ – Robert Masiello, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Chris Larsen’s Berned took command in the far turn and drew off in the stretch to finally score her first-ever graded event in Sunday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes at Monmouth Park.
Breaking cleanly from the far outside post 8 under New Jersey native Joe Bravo, Berned sat three-wide in the rear pack while the 4-5 favorite Divine Miss Grey and Unchained Melody dueled through opening splits of :23.51, :46.80, and 1:. Making her move entering the far turn, Berned ate up ground with each and every stride and hit the to of the wire with the lead. As she continued running strongly down the stretch with a 4-length lead, Bravo appeared to ease up, which allowed the hard-charging Dreamcall a shot at catching her. The move proved too little, too late, though, as Berned crossed with a 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:44.52 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“She broke well,” said Bravo, who also took the Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes earlier on the card. “I took her off the pace because I knew the horses up front were going quickly. Down the back side, I started to creep up a little at a time. When we got to the top of the stretch, I knew I had the two in front beat. The only thing I was worried about from that point was the horse tracking me. I’m blessed to ride these amazing horses and I can’t thank the connections enough for letting me ride this filly. She is special.”
Divine Miss Grey and Unchained Melody weakened off the far turn and finished third and fourth, respectively. Squan’s Kingdom, Viva Forever, Valedictorian, and Disco Rose completed the order of finish.
Berned improved her overall record to 15-5-2-1 with earnings of $374,781. The Graham Motion trainee previously had a record of 8-0-1-1 in graded stakes attempts, including the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes last out at Belmont Park, where she finished sixth.
“Her last race was a little tough for her,” said Motion assistant Adrian Roll. “Joe Bravo has ridden her a couple of times now, so I didn’t really have to give him a lot of instructions. He knows her. He said being on the outside, he had to outbreak the other horses. He didn’t. Fortunately, he was able to save ground. She made a big move at the 3/8 pole.”
Berned returned $10.20 to win, $5 to place, and $2.80 to show. Dreamcall brought back $5.20 to place and $3.20 to show, while Divine Miss Grey paid $2.20 to show.