OCEANPORT, N.J. * Honest Man stalked the pace into the stretch, and then turned on the speed to score a nearly three-length victory in the $300,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park on Saturday.
In the day’s second feature, Flying Dutchman Stable’s Bunker Hill fought back gamely when headed in deep stretch and gained an upset victory in the $60,000 Continental Mile Stakes for 2-year-olds, run over the main track.
Grasshopper, the 3-2 favorite, could not make up enough ground late and had to settle for second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Kiss the Kid, who had a neck on Gottcha Gold for the show.
The winner paid $8.20, $3.40 and $3 across the board as second choice in the field of eight older horses. Grasshopper, $2.40 to place and $2.40 to show, completed the $24.20 exacta. Kiss the Kid paid $4.40 to show.
Honest Man, a 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song owned by Winstar Farm & Fox Hill Farm, finished third in the Salvator Mile (G3) here in July, his first Monmouth start. This was the first stakes win for the Kentucky-bred, who has now won six of his 10 lifetime starts.
“It sure looks like the Salvator Mile set him up perfectly for this,” Jones said. “I told Terry just to let him break and play it from there. He did everything right. We were able to stalk the early pace and go after the leaders turning for home.”
Gottcha Gold, who won last year’s Iselin in front-running style, tried the same tactics today. However, Kiss the Kid ranged up to challenge around the turn, and both of them were passed in midstretch by the streaking Honest Man. Grasshopper made a belated move outside to be second.
In the Continental Mile, Bunker Hill set all the pace under Jose Lezcano, fighting off threats by favored Beacon Hill Road early, and then second choice Uncle T Seven late to prevail by a nose.
The 2-year-old son of Trippi, trained by Derek Ryan, surged ahead in the final yards to get his nose up first on the wire, as he raced the one mile on a fast main track in 1:39 2/5. The race was scheduled to be run on the turf, but was transferred to the dirt because of overnight rains.
As one of the longest prices in the field of eight 2-year-olds, Bunker Hill paid $29, $14.80 and $8.20 across the board and topped the $140.20 exacta. Uncle T Seven, who stuck his head in front briefly nearing the wire, had to settle for the place and paid $5.20 to place and $3.80 to show. Aspiring Nick was third, two lengths farther back, and paid $4.80 to show. Favored Beacon Hill Road was fourth.
This was the second victory in as many Monmouth starts for Bunker Hill, who broke his maiden here on Aug. 7 in a five-furlong maiden claimer.
“I had him ready to go two turns when we ran him first out,” Ryan said. “I had this race picked out all along. He’s really a game horse and he ran great today.”
Jockey Lezcano said, “When he saw the horse on the outside in the stretch (Uncle T Seven), he just dug in gamely and fought back all the way to the wire.”