Jockey Kendrick Carmouche took advantage of a slight bias on the rail on Aqueduct’s inner track, guiding 7-year-old Green Gratto along the inside to hold off his rivals by a head in Monday’s Grade 3 Toboggan Stakes. The son of Here’s Zealous is owned by Anthony and Gaston Grant; Gaston Grant is listed as the trainer. Recording just the second graded stakes win of his career, Green Gratto covered six furlongs over the fast dirt in 1:10.74.
“Kendrick said he was just going to gun him and that’s what happened,” Gaston Grant said. “Last time, Kendrick told me he saw Stallwalkin’ Dude a bit late and he tried to fight him back but by that time it was too late. That’s why he said to put the cheaters (blinkers with very small cups) on him to see who’s coming at him and it showed. Kendrick thought nobody could run with him. He knew he had the controlling speed. I normally don’t give any instructions to the jockey, I just tell them to ‘ride your race’ and he decided he was going to go and the outcome was good. It was kind of frightening [the final yards], I was hoping the wire came a little earlier but it was a good day.”
As is his usual pattern, Green Gratto broke on top of the field and immediately pushed out for the lead. Story to Tell rushed up to join the leader for a sixteenth of a mile, but Green Gratto stretched his neck out to retain a half-length lead through a first quarter of :22.60. It was another two lengths back to Life in Shambles and All Star Red. Approaching the far turn, Green Gratto kept on with a half-length advantage over Story to Tell to clock the half mile in :45.34.
Story to Tell drew even with Green Gratto nearing the head of the lane, but Green Gratto battled back gamely. Story to Tell dropped back nearing the eighth pole, but All Star Red was closing hard up to center of the track to mount his challenge. As All Star Red reached his saddle towel, Green Gratto dropped his frame closer to the ground, stretching his neck out with the effort of his determination. Those two continued to fight all the way to the wire, but Green Gratto held on by a head for the victory. All Star Red had to settle for second, with Stallwalkin’ Dude checking in third.
“It was just good that team worked well together,” Carmouche said. “Me and Gaston [Grant] decided that we were going to cut the blinkers back on Green Gratto and I think it made the difference with us being the ones in the winner’s circle today. He felt the other horses coming and he just kept himself motivated, all I had to do was point his head forward. I don’t even worry about fractions with him. He’s got a stride bigger than most sprinters so you just keep him into it, keep him motivated, and nine times out of 10, he’ll hold on.”
Bred in New Jersey by Kaz Hill Farm, Green Gratto has been a consistent player on the northeastern sprint scene for the last several years. He recorded his first graded stakes victory in 2015, but had continued to rack up graded stakes placings over the last year to build up to the Toboggan, his second graded stakes win. Overall, Green Gratto boasts a record of 8-9-8 from 51 starts, with earnings of over $ 850,000.
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