Pin Oak Stable's second-generation homebred Synchrony was authoritative when making it back-to-back wins in the G3 Fair Grounds Handicap this Saturday, running nine furlongs over the firm turf course in 1:48.09. The 6-year-old son of Tapit, ridden by Joe Bravo as the even-money favorite, bested longshots Bandua and Markitoff by just 1 1/4 lengths for trainer Mike Stidham.
“He was the best horse in his last race, anyone could have seen it,” Bravo recalled. “In turf racing, it's all about getting position and how you win races like that is by putting them in position and he was unfortunate not to hit daylight. Today I was worried about the speed favoring turf course and I had to use him a little bit. What makes him a good horse is that he listens to the rider. He's a special animal and hopefully he stays healthy for the future. He makes the rider look good.”
Synchrony broke with the field, but Bravo sat motionless aboard the horse until the speedier horses to his inside moved up and gave him room to nudge Synchrony over to the rail. He was patient all the way down the backstretch, tracking Great Wide Open through splits of :23.18, :47.37, and 1:11.44. Through the far turn, Bravo held out hope that the rail would open up, but finally decided to angle out just before the quarter pole and was able to maintain Synchrony's momentum.
The horse ran in spurts down the stretch, darting toward the inside a bit when Bravo went to his right-handed whip, but Synchrony was able to put away the forwardly-placed Bandua in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Markitoff checked in third while Great Wide Open held fourth.
Last summer at Monmouth Park, Synchrony captured a pair of G3 stakes back-to-back before testing deeper waters at Keeneland and Del Mar in the G1 Shadwell Turf Mile and the G2 Seabiscuit, respectively. The Kentucky-bred has now won eight of his 19 career starts, earning over $730,000.
“His works coming in were as good as I could ever want them to be,” Stidham said. “Schooling the last couple of days and coming into the paddock today, he was just so cool and so calm that I knew he was set up for a big one. We worried about the speed bias and I told Joe to not let him drift out the back door. We had to have some kind of position turning for home to have a shot to win and he did it.”
Following the race, Stidham stated that Synchrony would attempt to defend another title next out in the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Stakes on March 23.
“This is home and we would try to win the race again, we like to win at Fair Grounds,” Stidham said.
Stidham also noted that a long term goal would be the Grade I $1 million Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Last year, Synchrony finished a close third in the event which was contested over a yielding course.
“That would be our plan as long as the turf is firm,” Stidham said. “He's a really good horse. He has shown it over and over again. I think he's still got a Grade I sitting out there somewhere waiting for him.”
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