In a near-replay of the Marshua Stakes earlier on the card, jockey Jevian Toledo guided Sonny Inspired to a 1 3/4 length victory in today’s $75,000 Fire Plug Stakes.
One key difference, though: Sonny Inspired was a pick-up mount for Toledo, who originally was scheduled to ride Any Court Inastorm, who scratched.
“I found out yesterday that I might pick up the mount on him,” Toledo said after the race. He had been the horse’s rider throughout 2015 but was replaced by Victor Carrasco in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash and Sony Inspired’s subsequent race, an allowance/optional claiming test in which he ran an indifferent fourth. In addition to the rider switch, trainer Phil Schoenthal also put blinkers on the horse after two tries without.
Today’s field looked to be a rugged one on paper before four scratches left a much more moderate group.
“Honestly, I thought he was in a little bit tough today,” Schoenthal said. “I was really happy to see those other four horses scratch.”
Once the gates opened, favored Jake N Elwood cleared to the lead, tugging the field through a quarter-mile in 22.70 seconds and a half in 46.64. Rounding the turn, Sonny Inspired, a five-year-old Artie Schiller gelding, circled the field four wide to move into contention, took command leaving the three-sixteenths pole, and drew off for the win.
“There was a lot of speed in this race, so I just sat back and let him run on the turn,” said Toledo, who also won making a similar move aboard Karen’s Silk in the Marshua Stakes earlier in the day. “He finished up strong.”
Majestic Hussar, second in two recent stakes, completed the hat trick, running a game second after a troubled trip. Beach Hut, up close throughout, held third, while Jake N Elwood faded to be fifth. Running time for six furlongs was 1:10.95.
Sonny Inspired was bred in Maryland by Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGinnes. He is by Artie Schiller out of the unraced Silver Deputy mare Argentesque. It was the fifth win of his career, from 27 starts, and pushed his earnings to $291,324.
Though the Fire Plug is considered the final prep for the seven-furlong, Grade 3 General George next month, Schoenthal indicated that he had a different target in mind.
“We’ll probably pass on the General George and look to run him back in the Ben’s Cat [in March],” he said.