OCEANPORT, NJ – Just Howard put on a masterful performance winning Saturday’s $150,000 Oceanport Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park. This was the first win of 2019 for the five-year-old son of English Channel who picked up his first win since August of last year and his second career graded stakes win.
The post-time favorite Divisidero broke poorly and was forced to settle into last while Bird’s Eye View shot up to the front along the rail to control the pace of the race early on. Dover Cliffs settled just outside of Bird’s Eye View with Just Howard a length back and Divisidero bringing up the rear. Bird’s Eye View faced a bit of pressure on the backstretch but maintained his lead the whole length of the backstretch, setting fractions of :25.19 and :49.17. Into the final turn, the pace quickened and they hit the top of the stretch with all four horses within a length of the leader. Divisidero looked ready to rocket to the front, but Just Howard matched every step and held on to finish in first by a head. Divisidero finished second, Bird’s Eye View was third, and Dover Cliffs was fourth.
“The plan was to stalk today and once those two (Bird’s Eye View and Dover Cliffs) went on I was able to find a good spot and save ground. When I heard Divisidero start to make his move I came out and we were just able to outkick him,” said jockey Trevor McCarthy. “He’s been keeping good company and going against tough horses, especially in the Dixie. So I’m really happy to get this win.”
“My horse showed nice determination in the stretch,” said winning trainer Graham Motion. “He’s a cool horse and he deserved a win. He’s been sitting on a win for a long time. It was a nerve-wracking day but we got through it.”
Just Howard returned $5.40 to win, $2.20 to place. Divisidero brought back $2.20 to place. There was no show wagering.