OCEANPORT, N.J. – Klaravich Stables’ Highly Motivated and John D. Gunther and Eurowest Bloodstock’s Pipleline, both from the powerhouse barn of four-time Eclipse Award winning-trainer Chad Brown, finished one-two, respectively, in the Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes as Highly Motivated established a new Monmouth Park track record for 1 1/8 miles.
The 4-year-old Highly Motivated, ridden by Flavien Prat, rated off the pace of his stablemate and then made a sweeping move leaving the backstretch to run by Pipleline in the lane and prevail by 1¾ lengths in 1:46.53 on a fast track. Informative took third, another 2¾ lengths behind.
Spend A Buck set the old track record for the distance in 1985.
The win was the first in a graded stakes for Highly Motivated, who competed on the 2021Triple Crown trail to no avail. Brown sent him to the sidelines to find his legs again, according to Brown, who added that it’s taken this long for the horse to realize his potential.
“In hindsight, the grueling stretch duel in the (2021) Blue Grass really took a toll on him. Going into the (Kentucky) Derby he didn’t run at all. He went to the sidelines for quite a while. It’s really taken me this long to get the horse back from that tough, tough race against Essential Quality (Blue Grass). He’s finally — over a year later — rounding back into that good form. He required incremental steps. I let him find his legs again to find that sharpness he had,” Brown recounted.
Highly Motivated is by Into Mischief and with the win upped his record to 4-2-1 in nine career efforts. Sent off at 4-5, he returned $3.60 to win.
“He needs to be a bit more forwardly placed and I saw it today. He broke good and was happy to rate, but always in hand and ready to go. That’s the Highly Motivated I’m used to, and the horse he was early on the Derby Trail.
“Pipeline ran great. The plan was to go to the lead. It sounds like from Manny (Franco, the rider) there were a couple riders who were so intent on the inside that he didn’t feel it would be good judgment to clear him because he potentially would have been hounded. He decided to rate the horse. The horse ran very, very well. I think he probably prefers to go to the lead when the conditions are right.
“I haven’t looked beyond this race what’s next for either of them,” Brown continued.
“I felt like the other horse of Chad Brown’s (Pipeline) was traveling really well on the lead and I wanted to stay close to him. That’s why I moved when I did. Once I got going I didn’t want to stop him at that point. I wanted him to go on with it. I guess we traveled pretty well if he set a track record. He got himself into a good spot and he was going well. I just wanted to make sure we stayed in touch with the leader. When I asked him to go he really responded. Every race this year he has stepped up a little more. This was another one,” Prat explained.
By Lynne Snierson of the Monmouth Park publicity staff
Highly Motivated #7 with Flavien Prat riding won the $340,000 Grade III Monmouth Cup. Photo By Ryan Denver/EQUI-PHOT