Green Gratto tops longshot trifecta in Fall Highweight
One of the lightweights in the field carrying 124 pounds, Green Gratto outran the mare La Verdad and Captain Serious to lead by two lengths through splits of :22.20 and :44.71. Though still up two lengths with a furlong remaining, Green Gratto began to tire while a handful of rivals closed in. Moving best of these was multiple Grade 1 veteran Palace, who saved ground most of the way and challenged from the two path, but couldn't catch the winner.
Under Kendrick Carmouche, Green Gratto completed six furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.95 and paid $50.50.
Palace, sent off at 7-1, finished a half-length in front of 11-1 chance Fabulous Kid. The disappointments in the field were 3-2 favorite and 2014 Fall Highweight winner Salutos Amigos, who finished fifth, and La Verdad, who tends to be ineffective in graded stakes when unable to make an early lead. Despite beating only one of her six rivals here, she remains a leading candidate for 2015 champion female sprinter honors.
Green Gatto, a five-year-old son of Here's Zealous, is owned by trainer Gaston Grant and Anthony Grant.
"It's hard work and very emotional. I had this horse since he was a yearling, bought him and he just kept trying," Gaston Grant said. "I knew all along he was the kind of horse to win a graded stakes race because he always showed it in the mornings. It was just a matter of putting it together in the afternoon. He's just one tough guy and there's no quit in him. I really can't say much about it other than to Thank God for this opportunity."
This was only the second win in 15 starts this season for Green Gratto. Campaigned mostly in allowances this term, his forays into stakes company had produced mixed results. A distant third to Salutos Amigos in the Tom Fool H. (G3) in March and second in the Carter H. (G1) in April, Green Gratto was ineffective in three more recent stakes outings, finishing fourth in the Belmont Sprint Championship (G3), New Jersey Breeders' H., and Bold Ruler H. (G3). He preceded this win with a second by a nose to Fabulous Kid in a November 18 allowance at Aqueduct.
"I wasn't concerned with the week layoff because when he came back the next day it looked like he didn't lift a hoof," Grant said. "He was acting good and we put him on the track and he was training awesome. He came back from last time like he didn't even break a sweat so we figured we'd give him a shot in here."
Earlier on Thursday, Constellation romped to an 8 1/4-length victory in the $142,500 Furlough, a six-furlong dash for two-year-old fillies.
Third in the Spinaway (G1) and second in the Matron (G2) in her previous two starts, the 1-2 favorite finished up in 1:10.39 for her first career stakes win. Tonasah, Wave of Glory, and Summer Reading completed the order of finish.
Constellation, bought at OBS last March for $800,000, is owned by LBJ Foxwoods, trained by Steve Asmussen, and was ridden in the Furlough by Irad Ortiz Jr.
(NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)