07/21/2012 7:02PM

Monmouth: Howe Great delivers as odds-on favorite in Jersey Derby

David Owens/Equi-Photo
Joe Bravo guides Howe Great to an easy victory in the Jersey Derby.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Howe Great opened 1-9 on the first flash of the Monmouth Park tote board on Saturday.

The price “drifted” all the way up to 1-5 by post time for the $60,800 Jersey Derby for 3-year-olds on the turf.

It was money in the bank, all the way.

Perfectly positioned throughout by Joe Bravo, Howe Great took charge at the top of the lane and scored a 1 1/4-length win over Fire Alarm.

Trained by Graham Motion for Team Valor International, Howe Great got his fifth win in nine starts while improving to 4-1-1 in 6  races on grass.

He had faced much tougher company in his previous four races, starting with a win over Dullahan in the Grade 3 Palm Beach on the grass at Gulfstream Park.

Dullahan won the rematch on the switch to synthetic for the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland.

Back on turf, Howe Great was third from post 13 in the Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill Downs and second to rising grass star Summer Front in the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont Park.

After four straight graded appearances, Howe Great enjoyed a substantial class edge over five rivals in the Jersey Derby.

At the break, Purest Form bounded out alertly to engage Crafty Unicorn for the lead. Right behind them came Fire Alarm with Howe Great to his outside.

To borrow a Standardbred expression, Howe Great was sitting an ideal second-over trip.

“Graham was pretty much dead-on when he talked to me this morning,” Bravo said. “This is a forwardly placed horse. He went out there and was well within himself. He wasn’t under much pressure the entire time. He was pretty much in control the whole time.”

The pack tightened entering the final turn as Broxbourne ranged into contention.

Coming out of the bend, Howe Great was gearing up as Purest Form struggled to keep pace.

Howe Great was quickly in the clear at the top of the lane with Fire Alarm coming on late to tighten the final margin.

And once again, Bravo stood in the Monmouth winner’s circle after a stakes win. He is 10 for 19 in stakes at the meet, including the victory in the Grade 1 United Nations with Turbo Compressor.

The time was 1:42.67 for the 1 1/16 miles on the firm course as Howe Great paid $2.60 to win.

Crafty Unicorn held on for third, followed by Kid Sidney, Broxbourne, and Purest Form.