It's all Green Gratto in Gravesend

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

December 26th, 2015

After denying Palace with the help of a nine-pound weight concession in Thanksgiving’s Fall Highweight H. (G3), Green Gratto came right back to spoil his rival’s farewell party in Saturday’s $98,000 Gravesend at Aqueduct. Only this time, Green Gratto was giving Palace two pounds. The weight shift theoretically should have been decisive for Palace, who was dispatched as the even-money favorite. But Green Gratto was far more emphatic, drawing off by 5 3/4 lengths from the mildly closing Palace.

Green Gratto had a brief tussle early with Jake N Elwood, but established command when clocking the quarter-mile split in :22.53. Traveling sweetly the rest of the way for Kendrick Carmouche, the 4-1 chance opened up through a half in :45.00 and was gone beyond recall.

Track announcer John Imbriale summed it up: “He buried this field in the Gravesend.” After completing six furlongs on the fast inner track in 1:09.89, Green Gratto returned $10.20 to win.

Favorite backers knew they were in trouble early, as Palace just never appeared particularly comfortable. A long way back in fourth turning for home, he kept on for a respectable second in his career finale. The multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire now retires to stud at Spendthrift Farm near Lexington, where he’ll stand for a $6,000 fee in 2016.

Co-owned by trainer Gaston Grant and Anthony Grant, Green Gratto advanced his line to 37-6-6-6, $635,514. The New Jersey-bred 5-year-old has enjoyed his most productive campaign in 2015. Second in the Carter H. (G1) and third in the Tom Fool H. (G3), he’s ended the year with back-to-back stakes wins. That makes him by far the best runner sired by Here’s Zealous, who himself won the Gravesend in 2001 (when it was a Grade 3).

There was also an upset early on the program in the $98,000 Damon Runyon for New York-bred juveniles. The 2-5 favorite, Spooked Out, appeared to have made the winning move in the stretch, only to grow weary and fold late for fourth in a blanket finish.

Victory instead went to Extinct Charm, a 12-1 overlay who prevailed by a neck from the rallying E J’s Legacy, with Taoiseach another nose away in third. Extinct Charm thus became the first black-type winner for freshman sire American Lion.

This marked the second straight time that Spooked Out wound up fourth as the favorite. Last time, the Repole Stable/Todd Pletcher runner was well beaten at even-money in the November 27 King’s Swan. The common denominator in both was a trouble line at the start. Bumped before chasing the quick pace in the six-furlong King’s Swan, Spooked Out bobbled out of the gate here. It was a perfect trip from that point on in this two-turn debut, tracking Gehrig through splits of :24.09, :49.74 and 1:15.50 and grinding to the fore down the lane.

Extinct Charm, who had been parked in third, was on the premises to catch the flailing favorite, then held on grimly from the other closers. Under Aaron Gryder, he covered the mile and 70 yards in 1:44.73 and sparked a $27.40 win payout.

 Although the Gary Contessa trainee went off as the longest shot on the board, Extinct Charm had been on an upward curve since stretching out. He was coming off a five-length maiden romp in an off-the-turf affair here December 3, and his mark now stands at 9-2-2-1, $143,054.

The notable scratch was Sudden Surprise, who will stick to sprinting in Sunday’s $150,000 Great White Way division of the New York Stallion S. Representing the same connections as Spooked Out, he should fare much better for Repole and Pletcher in that spot.

Photos courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography, Green Gratto (top) by Joe Labozzetta.