OCEANPORT, NJ – Trainer Chad Brown’s Sacred Life returned strongly from an extended break, striding off in the stretch to win Sunday’s $100,000 Oceanport Stakes at Monmouth Park.

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Sent from post 5 under Paco Lopez as the 6/5 second choice, Sacred Life tucked back and ran along the rail toward the rear. Up front, Jamminwithbrandon dueled with Irish Strait through opening fractions of :24.29 and :48.92.

Irish Strait led into the far turn as Ninety One Assault made a bid. Tipped out three-wide midway through the far turn, Sacred Life unleashed a massive bid at the top of the stretch and shot like a cannon to take the lead just inside the 1/8 pole.

Clearing away impressively, Sacred Life crossed 4 lengths clear in a final time of 1:42.

Credit: Ryan Denver / Equi-Photo

“He was ready today,” Lopez said. “I know he’s a classy horse. I just wanted to get some position in the first turn, let him settle, and wait. I took him outside because the turf is a little harder there than it is inside. I was waiting for (Synchrony), but he never showed up, so I just wanted to get my horse clear. I held him as long as I could, but he really wanted to go. He showed how much he wanted to run with the way he closed.”

Hawkish rallied from the rear to take second in a photo finish over Irish Strait, Eons, and the even-money favorite Synchrony (the 2018 champ), with a nose, a 1/2-length, and a head separating those four. 

Nintey One Assault, A Thread of Blue, Bumperdoo, and Jamminwithbrandon completed the order of finish.

Compound It and Empire of War were scratched. Croatian was a Main Track Only entry.

Sacred Life’s win came in his first start since finishing fourth in January’s Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) at Gulfstream Park and improved his overall record to 15-6-6-0 with $414,518 earned. Co-owners Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables, and Bethlehem Stables privately purchased the French-bred 5-year-old son of Siyouni last spring.

“I wasn’t worried about the (layoff),” said assistant trainer Luis Cabrera. “He’s a very classy horse. He knows what to do and he knows where the wire is. He beat a good field. This was a tough race, but this is a good horse, a very classy horse. He ran the same way in Florida in his last start. He ran good, considering it was a Grade 1, then Chad gave him a little break. He really closed nicely this race.”

Sacred Life returned $4.40 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.80 to show. Hawkish brought back $6.40 to place and $5 to show, while Irish Strait paid $6.20 to show.