05/31/2017 3:01PM

Always Sunshine looks good winning comeback on sloppy track

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Barbara D. Livingston
Always Sunshine, shown winning the 2016 Maryland Sprint Stakes, should be ready to return to stakes competition after winning his first start of the season Monday at Monmouth Park.

Always Sunshine returned from a seven-month layoff with a sharp victory at Monmouth Park on Monday, taking an off-the-turf five-furlong sprint by 4 1/4 lengths for Parx-based trainer Ned Allard.

Always Sunshine, who was bred and is owned by Gilbert Campbell, developed into one of the best sprinters in the Mid-Atlantic region last year. He concluded his 3-year-old season in 2015 by winning the Dave’s Friend at Laurel Park and then finished second to Salutos Amigos in the Grade 3 Tom Fool at Aqueduct and won the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint at Pimlico. Although he tailed off after those races, his comeback win suggests he will be stakes-bound shortly.

“At the end of last year, he had some minor issues and needed a break, so we sent him down to Mr. Campbell’s farm, Stonehedge South, in Florida,” Allard said. “He’s been training very well.”

Monday’s race, a high-level optional claimer, was conducted over a sloppy track after being taken off the turf. With Frankie Pennington aboard, Always Sunshine stalked fractions of 22.48 and 45.60 seconds before pulling away nicely to stop the timer in 57.12. He earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure.

“I was trying to find something softer for him so we wouldn’t beat him up first time back,” Allard said. “I really liked the way he did it.”

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The Eastern sprint division is salty this year with A. P. Indian, Awesome Slew, Limousine Liberal, Mind Your Biscuits, and Whitmore all in the mix. Always Sunshine might not be that far behind.

“The division is tough, but all he has to do is be a little better than last year and I think he’ll fit right in,” Allard said. “I think he’ll turf just fine too. I ran him in a turf sprint on grass at 3 and he got in more trouble than the law allows and still finished second.”

Allard’s other top horse from a year ago Abiding Star will make his first start since December in a no-conditions allowance going seven furlongs at Parx on Saturday. Last year, Abiding Star went 6 for 11, including wins in the Parx Derby and the Private Terms at Laurel Park.

“He had a good, productive year but he needed time by the end of the season” Allard said.