Oceanport, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - Winning Cause, ridden by Eddie Castro, held off a late running Big Blue Kitten to win Sunday's Cliff Hanger Stakes at 1 1/8 miles over Monmouth Park's turf course.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Winning Cause stalked pacesetter Plainview while 4-5 favorite Big Blue Kitten trailed the seven-horse field. Winning Cause took over the lead on the final turn as the favorite mounted his rally from last.
Sent off as the 9-2 co-second choice, Winning Cause repelled the late charging Big Blue Kitten and posted a half-length victory on a firm turf course. Plainview held on for third with Oceanport Stakes winner Guys Reward getting fourth.
"I just sat back and got my horse relaxed," said Castro. "Around the turn, I started to make my move and I looked back and saw that I had the jump on Big Blue Kitten and just rode hard to the wire."
Completing the finish were Michael With Us, Calvados and Vitium. The time for the Cliff Hanger was 1:46.16.
Owned by Alto Racing, Winning Cause notched his first win of the year in seven starts. The victory was worth $60,000 to bring the 4-year-old chestnut colt's career earnings to $556,274 with five wins and seven seconds in 22 races.
"He always runs well. He's a very consistent horse, who likes this course," said Anthony Sciametta, Pletcher's Monmouth assistant.
Winning Cause came into the Cliff Hanger off consecutive fourth-place finishes in Monmouth's United Nations Handicap and Saratoga's John's Call Stakes. Earlier this year at Monmouth the colt was second in the Red Bank on May 17 and third in the Monmouth Stakes on June 8. He was also seventh in the Ben Ali at Keeneland.
Winning Cause returned $11.00, $4.80 and $2.80. Big Blue Kitten paid $2.40 and $2.10, and Plainview paid $2.80 to show.