HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – When jockey Manoel Cruz got the last-minute mount aboard favored Salto in Sunday’s featured seventh race at Gulfstream Park, his instructions were short and sweet for the 1 1/16-mile turf allowance.
Cruz followed the instructions to a ‘T’ while guiding Salto to a narrow victory over second-choice Heiko in the $41,500 allowance race that unfolded just as it had shaped up – a two-horse race.
Heiko, who captured the recent $100,000 The Vid Stakes in front-running fashion, shot to the lead under Jilver Chamafi, as expected, as Cruz eased Salto off the rail to assume a stalking position outside the pacesetter on the first turn. Heiko was able to set comfortable fractions of :24 1/5 and :49 for the first half mile, but Cruz tracked the pacesetter closely along the backstretch and far turn before asking the 8-5 favorite for his run.
Heiko, the 2-1 second choice, unleashed a strong stretch kick, but Salto responded to Cruz’s urging through the stretch to wear down the pacesetter and claim victory by a neck.
“His class really kicked in through the stretch,” Sciametta said.
Salto ran 1 1/16 miles on a firm course in 1:40.70. Heiko finished 8 ¼-lengths clear of third-place finisher Cash Rules.
Salto was originally scheduled to be ridden by Elvis Trujillo, who was unseated from his mount, Stars Collide, after finishing third in the fifth race. Trujillo complained of left shoulder pain and was sent to Hollywood Memorial for examination.
Salto was making his first start since finishing fourth on Feb. 9 in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf, in which Point of Entry and Animal Kingdom finished 1-2.
“He ran a great race. He had been training really well since coming to Palm Meadows,” Sciametta said.
In the co-featured sixth race, prohibitive favorite Wildcat Red stayed undefeated with a 1 ½-length victory in the $45,500 allowance. The 2-year-old son of D’wildcat, who had captured his debut by eight lengths on Sept. 14, chased pacesetter Elusive Blueboy into the stretch before drawing clear under jockey Edgard Zayas. The Jose Garoffalo-trained colt, who was sent to post as the 1-10 favorite, ran six furlongs in 1:10.57.
Who’s Hot: Jose Garoffalo made two trips to the winner’s circle with Wildcat Red ($2.20) and Royal Premier ($18.60) in the eighth race. Trainer Henry Collazo also saddled a pair of winners: Hearty Congrats ($4.20) in the first and Pom Pom Power ($8.20) in the third. Jockey Jonathan Gonzales scored a double aboard Sharapova Slams ($7.40) in the fifth and Ad Meliora ($3.40) a dead-heat winner in the eighth.
Jockey Antioco Murgia, who has ridden in Europe and Dubai, made his first visit to a U.S. winner’s circle after guiding first-time-starter Da Wildcat Girl ($6.60) to victory in the fourth race.
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