07/02/2010 11:00PM

Gone Astray regains good form in Salvator Mile


OCEANPORT, N.J. - The old Gone Astray was back Saturday, pulling away to five-length win in the Grade 3, $250,000 at Monmouth Park.

This was a vintage Gone Astray moment, a throwback to his dominant wins last year in the Ohio and Pennsylvania derbies.

Winless in three starts this season coming into the Salvator, Gone Astray picked an ideal moment for a return to form.

The Salvator was a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" Challenge stakes, insuring Gone Astray a berth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

It was a strangely paceless race.The five-horse field raced a tight pack through fractions of 25.09 seconds, 50.11, and 1:14.05. Fifth for the first half-mile but never far off the lead, Gone Astray swept to the front turning for home and decisively pulled away to a five-length win over Duke of Mischief. You and I Forever finished third after grabbing the lead midway on the final turn.

Cornelio Velasquez was aboard for trainer Shug McGaughey as Gone Astray stopped the clock in 1:38.02.

"Our horse is usually near the back before he comes running," said assistant trainer Buzz Tenney. "I was a little worried when I saw the fractions. Obviously, I would have liked to see them go a little faster than they did. We'll keep the Breeders' Cup in the back of our mind. After this, I'm sure Shug will find something for him going two turns at Saratoga."

Le Grand Cru was fourth. Munnings, the 6-5 favorite, finished fifth.

The crowd Saturday was 13,783 for an umbrella giveaway. The total handle from all sources was $9,787,620, the highest in track history aside from a Haskell or Breeders' Cup Day.