07/27/2014 4:21PM

Valid outduels Bradester to win Monmouth Cup

Tom Keyser
Orlando Bocachica guides Valid (left) to a half-length victory over Bradester in the Monmouth Cup on Sunday.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Itsmyluckyday would have been favored in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup on Sunday, but his trainer, Eddie Plesa Jr., has decided to test deeper waters in next Saturday's Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga. Itsmyluckyday looks all the better now that the two-three finishers behind him in the Salvator Mile came back to fill the Monmouth Cup exacta.

In the Salvator Mile, Bradester and Valid alternated on the pace until Itsmyluckyday cruised by them in the stretch. On Sunday in the $211,000 Monmouth Cup, Bradester set the pace as Valid raced just off him while outside Pants On Fire.

Valid, ridden by Orlando Bocachica, moved up to engage Bradester nearing the far turn and the pair battled tooth and nail with Valid proving best by a half-length. Bradester, who had nosed out Valid for second in the Salvator, finished a clear second, 4 3/4 lengths ahead of Pants On Fire.

"I told Orlando to lay off the pace today," winning trainer Marcus Vitali said. "My horse really showed up. He's a fighter. Itsmyluckyday is a tough horse that beat him last time."

The win made up for a heart-breaking loss two starts back when Valid was beaten a nose on the wire by Last Gunfighter in the $200,000 Mountainview Stakes at Penn National.

Valid paid $10.80 as the fourth wagering choice in the nine-horse field. He completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.43, following fractions of 24.03, 48.21, 1:11.72 and 1:35.15.