Tuscan Sky dazzles in Pegasus Stakes

Another big day of stakes racing, another big day for trainers Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown.

The two combined to win all (or at least part) of the four stakes races on Saturday’s Haskell Preview Day at Monmouth Park, setting up both for the track’s showcase day of racing on NYRA Bets Haskell Stakes Day on July 20.

Bettors responded to the 12-race program with gusto as well, with the total handle of $10,769,362 marking the highest total for a non-Haskell or Breeders’ Cup card at the Jersey Shore track since 2010.

Tuscan Sky, trained by Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano, romped to a 6¾-length win in the $157,500 NYRA Bets Pegasus Stakes, the final local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Stakes.

Pletcher added his second stakes win on the day when Grade 1 winner Bright Future, the 11-10 favorite, rallied for a 1¾-length victory in the $155,000 Grade 3 Salvator Mile under strong urging from Castellano.

Brown won the $152,500 Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes with Tax Implications (with stablemate Maman Joon finishing a fast-closing second) and then saw Running Bee finish in a dead heat for the win with 35-1 shot Fort Washington in the Grade 3, $157,000 Monmouth Stakes.

Tuscan Sky, a Kentucky-bred son of Vino Rosso owned by Spendthrift Farm, made amends for a clunker in his last start in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial on April 6 with a decisive score over his five 3-year-old rivals.

While four horses contested the early lead in the mile and a sixteenth Pegasus, Castellano, breaking from post one with Tuscan Sky, was content to stay on the rail and take in the proceedings.

As the others eventually drifted, Castellano was able to seize a huge opening along the rail.

The winning time was 1:43.31.

“I think getting the rail trip was the key to winning the race,” said Castellano. “We had the inside post and held it. I tried to break out of the gate and get a good position. In the first turn I saw four or five horses going for the lead and I think the key for us was saving the ground. I kept the position because I didn’t want to be buried behind horses and I took advantage of being on the rail.


“We were lucky to be in the right place to win the race. I let them go, but at the same time I did not want to give up my position. The blinkers helped a lot keeping him forward.”

Though Tuscan Sky is lightly raced with three victories in four career starts, Castellano sees no reason the horse should not be considered for the Haskell. The top two finishers – Brown’s Domestic Product grabbed the place spot – receive free entry and start fees to the Haskell.

“I think this horse deserves a shot in the Haskell the way he won this race,” said Castellano. “The pace was quick and he was chasing and still finished good. That’s a good sign going forward.”

Tuscan Sky
Tuscan Sky romped to a decisive win in the Pegasus Stakes. Photo by Melissa Torres/EQUI-PHOTO.

Anthony Sciametta, who handles Pletcher’s Monmouth Park division, said the horse gave his connections plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

“Todd hasn’t said anything about plans going forward,” said Sciametta. “I think he wanted to see how he ran here first. I’m sure he will discuss it with the owners and go from there.”

Bright Future, also ridden by Castellano for Pletcher, showed a dazzling turn of foot to win the Salvator Mile by 1¾ lengths over Coastal Mission. The winning time was 1:36.96, with Bright Future paying $4.20 to win.

“That was a big performance,” said Sciametta. “We’re very pleased. The horse was training well at Belmont so I’m really not surprised.”

Bright Future, a 5-year-old son of Curlin owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, posted his fifth win from nine career starts. He won the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga last Sept. 2.

Tax Implications led a 1-2 Brown finish with Maman Joon in the Eatowntown Stakes, with the 4-year-old daughter of Mehmas snapping a seven-race losing streak. Her only other career win was a maiden special weight score on the grass at Monmouth Park in her debut on Sept. 11, 2022.

The winning time for the mile and a sixteenth over a turf course listed as firm was 1:43.98. She paid $9.60 to win.

The Brown-trained Running Bee, ridden by Vince Cheminaud, wound up in a dead heat with 35-1 shot Fort Washington in the Monmouth Stakes. The winning time for the nine-furlong grass race was 1:48.70.

Running Bee now has a 5-3-1 line from 11 career starts, all on the grass. The 5-year-old son of English Channel is owned by Calumet Farm. Fort Washington, trained by Shug McGaughey and ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, earned his fourth career victory with the dead heat.