OCEANPORT, NJ – Epic Racing’s New Jersey-bred Valedictorian closely tracked the early lead before pouncing and kicking clear to romp home stylishly in Saturday’s $150,000 Eatontown Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park.
Bobbling after she broke from the rail as the 4/5 favorite under Paco Lopez, Valedictorian stalked inside of Conquest Hardcandy early on when that foe showed her desire for the lead. After running through fractions of :23.77 and :47.86, Valedictorian took back and tipped out before taking command in the far turn.
Responding alertly when Lopez asked, Valedictorian drew off with ease in the stretch under only mild urging. The Kelly Breen trainee hit the wire in a final time of 1:43.70 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the good turf course.
“I was a little concerned early because I thought I would be the only speed,” Lopez said. “I was fine taking her back and then going outside after that other horse was pushing for the lead. I was worried about the turf course, but it was good. I thought it would be very wet and it wasn’t. My horse pulled me to the front and I knew what I had it. I had just had to get her to relax. She is a nice mare, very consistent.”
After trailing early, Maid To Remember rallied strongly in the stretch to nip Inflexibility by a nose for second. My Sistersledge, a defeated Conquest Hardcady, and a non-threatening Dynatail completed the order of finish.
Valedictorian’s win was her fifth over the Jersey Shore oval and improved her overall record to 28-12-6-3. The 5-year-old daughter of Temple City has now earned $672,765 in her career.
“It was a legitimate pace,” Breen said. “Paco rode her smartly. He got her to the outside, she settled, and when I saw that she was doing it well and Paco had his trademark reins dangling, I knew we were okay. I was just worried she would be too sharp off her last couple of workouts, a little too eager, but it worked out fine. There are not too many like her. It’s really fun to have her in our barn.”
Valedictorian returned $3.60 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.10 to show. Maid To Remember brought back $5.40 to place and $2.80 to show, while Inflexibility paid $2.20 to show.