OCEANPORT, NJ – Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and Gary Aisquith’s Monongahela utilized a new running style to great success on Saturday, closely following the early pace before striking sharply and drawing clear to win the $150,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park.
Breaking from post 7 under Jose Lezcano at 4/1 odds, Monongahela was forwardly-placed and pressed early leader Diamond King through fractions of :22.88, :46.79, and 1:11.05. Making his bid two-wide in the far turn, Monongahela took over at the top of stretch and drew off steadily under Lezcano’s encouragement. The Jason Servis trainee crossed with a 4-length advantage in a final time of 1:42.45 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“The one time I rode him before this, we were further back and I felt like he didn’t want to go by horses, even though I thought I had plenty of horse,” Lezcano said. “Today, I tried to put him a lot closer, that way he can finish and do the job. He’s at his best at a mile, a mile and 1/16, so this race set up well for us. We were going a little fast, but I knew I had plenty of horse.”
After pulling early, Bal Harbour settled and was able to make a run for second, achieving that by 1 1/2 lengths. Diamond King, the 6/5 favorite, weakened after his initial duel to third. Zanotti, Runnin’toluvya, and Just Call Kenny completed the order of finish.
Navy Commander was scratched.
Monongahela’s win was his first since winning an allowance event at Laurel Park on December 4, 2017. The Pennsylvania-bred 5-year-old son of K One King improved his record to 24-6-11-2 with $381,043 earned.
“I wasn’t the one who changed this horse’s running style – Jose Lezcano did,” Servis said. “He told me, ‘I want to be forwardly placed. I think he prefers that instead of how he has been running.’ He also told me didn’t like horses on the outside of him. I told him, ‘Jose, you ride him however you want.’ He learned a lot when he rode him two races ago (in the Excelsior).”
Monongahela returned $10.60 to win, $4.40 to place, and $2.40 to show. Bal Harbour brought back $3.40 to place and $2.20 to show, while Diamond King paid $2.10 to show.