March 2, 2024

Synchrony brings best off layoff; The Player wires foes in Mineshaft

Synchrony earned his first graded win at the site of his first turf win (Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)

Pin Oak homebred Synchrony made a strong statement returning from a long layoff in Saturday’s $150,000 Fair Grounds H. (G3), rallying from the near the tail of the 12-horse field to win going away by two lengths and snapping 6-5 favorite Mr. Misunderstood’s eight-race turf winning streak.

The 9-2 third choice, Synchrony ran to his recent works for trainer Mike Stidham and won powerfully under Joe Bravo in a time of 1:48.82 for about 1 1/8 miles on the firm turf. The son of Tapit and the Grade 3-winning Forest Wildcat mare Brownie Points returned $11.

Mr. Misunderstood, facing older horses for the first time, finished five lengths ahead of 43-1 longshot Tiz a Slam for place honors.

Grade 3-placed earlier in his career when trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Synchrony made his debut for Stidham a year ago to the day in an allowance on dirt at Fair Grounds. After running a nondescript fifth, Stidham switched the colt to turf, a surface over which he immediately excelled and has continued to.

A strong allowance win on the Fair Grounds lawn last March was followed by a close second in the $75,000 Henry Clark at Laurel to Ascend, subsequent winner of the Manhattan (G1). In his most recent outing nearly nine months ago, Synchrony finished second in the May 27 Red Bank (G3) at Monmouth Park.

“It’s all about how the horse is doing and their mental and physical attitude,” Stidham said. “I had him for a short time last year, but he is like a completely different horse this time around. You can see it in his training and he just telegraphed it and showed it this afternoon.”

The Kentucky-bred winner has now bankrolled $258,102 from a line of 11-4-3-2.

The Player responded well to the addition of blinkers (Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)

The scratch of morning line favorite Cedartown left The Player the one to beat in the $147,000 Mineshaft H. (G3). Sporting blinkers for the first time, the five-year-old by Street Sense showed improved early speed and led throughout under Calvin Borel to win by 4 1/4 lengths.

Owned by trainer Buff Bradley and Carl Hurst, The Player returned $4.20 after running 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42.29. Thirstforlife, a 9-1 chance, nosed out Scuba for second.

Winner of the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland last October and previously placed in the 2016 Indiana Derby (G2) and 2017 Ack Ack (G3), The Player entered the Mineshaft off a fifth-place effort in the Clark H. (G1) and a fourth to Cedartown in the $75,000 Louisiana.

“He ran at Keeneland and did it impressive but he kind of just lost interest,” Borel said. “The works were there every morning and I just couldn’t understand it. He’s so much better than these horses. It was very disappointing and he just wasn’t focused, so me and the boss talked and I worked him and he was a totally different horse. He got focused like he’s supposed to be.”

Bred by Bradley, his late father Fred, and Hurst, The Player is out of multiple stakes winner Town Queen, by Williamstown. His record now stands at 13-5-3-1, $452,485. He’ll likely be pointed to the March 24 New Orleans H. (G2).

The Joe Sharp-trained Mom’s On Strike ($5.80) made it two in a row over the Fair Grounds lawn, closing strongly to deny 46-1 chance Vagabond Princess by 1 1/2 lengths in the $75,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial for fillies and mares.

Winner last month of the $75,000 Marie Krantz Memorial, Mom’s On Strike was again piloted by Adam Beschizza and scored the popular win as the 19-10 favorite. Owned by Carl Moore and Brad Grady, she completed about 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1:43.82. Finishing third in a dead heat were Five Hearts and pacesetter I’m Betty G.

“I think our plan with her is we’ll run her in the next race [New Orleans Ladies] and then give her a little break for a couple of months, just to kind of freshen her and have her set up for the fall,” Sharp said.

In the $50,100 Colonel Power, an about 5 1/2-furlong grass sprint, 4-5 favorite Holding Gold ($3.60) rallied late to edge long-time leader Will Call by a half-length under John Velazquez, covering the distance in 1:03.60.

Winner last season of the Shakertown (G3) and most recently a close seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), the Live Oak homebred could be pointed to the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) on the Dubai World Cup (G1) by trainer Mark Casse.