05/26/2012 6:41PM

Monmouth Park: Pants On Fire hangs on to win Skip Away

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Pants On Fire, with Paco Lopez riding one of his five winners Saturday at Monmouth, takes the Skip Away.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Pants On Fire held off Norman Asbjornson by one length on Saturday to win the $75,000 Skip Away Stakes at Monmouth Park.

A 4-year-old trained by Kelly Breen, Pants On Fire responded to the combination of an easier spot following a pair of Grade 2 stakes, and a return to his home track, to post his second win in four starts this year.

Paco Lopez, who had five wins on the card, was aboard.

Pants On Fire, a leading 3-year-old last season with wins in the Louisiana Derby and the Pegasus Stakes, started this campaign with a sharp allowance win in Gulfstream before failing to fire in the New Orleans Handicap and the Charles Town Classic.

Back at Monmouth, Lopez let Pants On Fire, the 2-5 favorite, settle on the fence before angling out for running room on the final turn to grab the lead.

A potentially dominant win turned into a tight finish as Norman Asbjornson made a big run through the lane.

"We just wanted to get him back to winning," Breen said. "I don't think the field was a poor as the odds showed. It wasn't that easy a race. I don't know if we should have been 2-5. That other horse made a good run at us through the stretch."

The time was 1:43.56 for the 1 1/16 miles on the fast track. Pants On Fire paid $2.80 to win.

Cactus Charlie got third.

Malibu Way gets Lamplighter victory

Malibu Way ($6.60) beat 9-10 favorite Heavy Breathing by a neck in the $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf.

Trainer Christophe Clement improved to 3 for 5 at the meet as Malibu Way ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42 over the course rated good.

It was the third start for the colt, who won at first asking in March at Gulfstream Park before missing by a head in a first-level allowance at Keeneland.

Joe Bravo, aboard for the debut victory, happily reunited with Malibu Way.
"When I rode him first time down at Gulfstream, Christophe was really excited about the horse," Bravo said. "He showed a lot of talent to win that day, overcoming a couple of things. What I liked today is that he relaxed. He sat quiet, very reserved."

Until Bravo asked him on the final turn.
Malibu Way ranged up on the outside and eventually wore down Heavy Breathing who raced wide throughout.

Crafty Unicorn got third after setting the pace.