07/10/2010 12:00AM

Trappe Shot passes several tests in Long Branch

Ryan Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Trappe Shot (right) puts away Southern Ridge (second from right) en route to a 2 1/2-length victory in the Long Branch Stakes.

Trappe Shot proved to be a cool customer Saturday at Monmouth Park, winning the for 3-year-olds in his first trip around two turns.

Trappe Shot beat Nacho Friend by 2 1/2 lengths for his fourth straight win. It was an important learning experience following a trio of blowout victories.

In addition to passing his first two-turn test, Trappe Shot showed he could overcome a stumble at the start to rate in tight quarters. He also demonstrated a willingness to squeeze through a narrow opening on the fence when prompted by Alan Garcia.

With his first stakes win under his girth, Trappe Shot appears headed to bigger and better things.

The first two finishers in the Long Branch are traditionally extended invitations to the meet's richest event, the Grade 1 Haskell on Aug. 1.

"He's a very nice horse and it was a great ride," said winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "It's all about the horse and he was very impressive today. He still hasn't been hit with the stick this year."

As for the Haskell, McLaughlin said "It's in our sights. It's three weeks away and he won easy today, so that's what I think we'd like to do.

"He's a top horse and he trains great all the time. I wish we didn't have setbacks earlier or you might have been reading about him on the first Saturday in May. We have time now going forward to show everyone how good he is."

After the early stumble, Trappe Shot, the 1-2 favorite, recovered nimbly to settle in third, second on the rail behind the pacesetting Southern Ridge. Trappe Shot slipped inside that rival to duel head to head on the final turn before settling that dispute turning for home. Nacho Friend, the 7-1 outsider in the four-horse field, was the major stretch danger but Trappe Shot was more than up to challenge.

Southern Ridge got third with Latigo Shore fourth.

The time was 1:43.48 for the 1 1/16 miles on the fast track.

Trappe Shot sold for $850,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale as the highest-priced Thoroughbred in Maryland auction history.

* Violon Sacre ($9.80) edged Banrock by a neck in the $100,000 Battlefield Stakes on the turf.

Pablo Fragoso was aboard for trainer Patrick Biancone as the 5-year-old improved to 8 for 14. The time was 1:35.34 for the one mile on the firm course.