08/02/2015 5:20PM

Bradester turns tables on rival to win Monmouth Cup

Barbara D. Livingston
Bradester wins the Monmouth Cup by 2 3/4 lengths Sunday at Monmouth Park.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Bradester, who finished a tight second to Valid in last year's Monmouth Cup, turned the tables this year, coasting to a front-running 2 3/4-length victory over his rival in the Grade 2, $200,000 event. The race is the richest of five undercard stakes preceding the day’s featured Haskell Invitational.

“He loves Monmouth,” trainer Eddie Kenneally said of Bradester ($3.60), who won the Grade 3 Salvator Mile last month in prep for Sunday’s race. “His record is very good here. The horse relaxed nicely on the front end and had a lot to spare for the stretch drive.”

There was a late development before the race as Protonico, who was favored exiting the paddock, was a late scratch during the warm-up after jockey Mike Smith said the colt felt lame. It was another hiccup in the campaign of the multiple graded stakes winner, who was inexplicably eased in the Donn earlier this year and later missed the Stephen Foster due to illness.

Following the pre-race drama, there was little suspense at all for Bradester, who was made the post-time favorite. Breaking alertly from the rail, the horse cruised through an opening half in 47.81 seconds while looking relaxed. Valid, who sat back in third early, ranged up to the outside at the quarter pole, but Bradester shook loose once straightened away by Corey Lanerie and pulled clear to the final margin, stopping the clock in 1:42.43. After Valid, it was another 4 3/4 lengths back to Freestyler in third.

“[The scratch of Protonico] affected everything,” Kenneally said. “He was the class of the race. Certainly not having him in there made it easier on everybody. You don't ever want to see anybody's horse scratch, but it certainly changed the whole complexion of the race.”