Almanaar regained some of his better form at the right time Saturday holding safe a determined bid from the favored Synchrony in the $205,000 Monmouth (G2) at Monmouth Park.
Ridden by Joe Bravo, previously the regular pilot for Synchrony, Almanaar made a strong middle move around the far turn to challenge pacesetter Irish Strait, took the lead and opened up a one length advantage in mid-stretch, and held on to win by a neck while drifting out late. Force the Pass was more than four lengths behind in third.
The 2-1 second choice in the field of eight, Almanaar paid $6.80 after covering nine furlongs on firm turf in a quick 1:45.75.
A homebred racing for Shadwell Stable and trained by Chad Brown, Almanaar was a multiple Group 3 winner in France at three, but has spent significant time on the shelf since then. He missed more than a year of action during which he was imported, and was out of action for a longer period after a victory in the 2017 Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1).
Last season, Almanaar kicked off his campaign with an allowance win, followed by a close second in the Arlington Million (G1). However, he was up the track in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), and Ft. Lauderdale (G2) in his final three starts of the season. His record now stands at 20-7-4-2, $810,349.
A seven-year-old gelding by Dubawi, Almanaar is out of the Group 2-winning Baqah, by Bahhare. His fourth dam was 1986 champion juvenile filly Brave Raj.
Sunny Ridge slipped inside Diamond King at the eighth pole and drove home the winner of the $150,000 Salvator Mile (G3).
The 8-5 favorite, the New Jersey-bred six-year-old by three parts of a length for owner-breeder Dennis Drazin and trainer Jason Servis. Diamond King finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of the slow-starting Bal Harbour.
Ridden by Jose Lezcano, Sunny Ridge paid $5.20 after completing one lap of the fast Monmouth oval in 1:37.17.
This was the sixth career stakes win for the gelded son of Holy Bull, whose lone previous graded victory came in the 2016 Withers (G3). He’s also placed in 11 other stakes, including such Grade 1s as the Champagne, Haskell Invitational, and Cigar Mile.