A shocking 54-1 when the gates opened for the G1 Carter, the New Jersey-bred Green Gratto took the lead and never looked back, turning for home two lengths in front of the field. The 7-year-old son of Here’s Zealous was just able to hold off Unified by a nose at the wire, taking his first top-level win in his 53rd career start. Ridden by Chris DeCarlo for owner/trainer Gaston Grant (also owned by Anthony Grant), Green Gratto covered seven furlongs over Aqueduct’s fast main track in 1:23.25. This was also the first G1 for Grant.
“The last time, he actually bled and he didn’t perform any,” Grant said. “When we went back to the barn, we scoped him and knew something was wrong. It wasn’t like his physical ability wasn’t there. We went to the drawing board and came back and he was working like a freight train. There’s not much we can do with him now other than these races, so we might as well take a shot at the big guys.”
Green Gratto broke sharply alongside the heavy favorite Unified, but Green Gratto quickly decided to take the lead under DeCarlo. Through fractions of :22.56 and :45.64, Green Gratto led Unified by a length with Ocean Knight tracking from third. DeCarlo took a gamble at the half-mile pole, moving his horse out to a 1 1/2-length lead over Unified as he rounded the far turn.
At the head of the lane, Green Gratto had a two-length advantage. Unified was late changing leads, and so struggled to mount his rally until mid-stretch, but Tommy Macho was making up all kinds of ground along the rail. Just as Unified got in gear, Tommy Macho ran out of running room as Unified hemmed him in at the fence. Nearing the wire, Unified was making up ground with every stride but he was too late; Green Gratto held on by a long nose at the finish. Tommy Macho had to settle for third after clearly moving the best of the three late.
“He broke running and I was able to let him get into a good rhythm,” said DeCarlo. “I thought that they would move at me a little earlier, like midway around the turn, but when nobody was right on him, I was able to give him a breather and let him save himself. When we turned in, I still had a lot of horse and he kept on running. He tries. He keeps the same steady pace. He’s a big horse and he’s got a real long stride.”
Bred in New Jersey by Kaz Hill Farm, Green Gratto seems to be hitting his best stride as he gets older. He won the G3 Toboggan to kick off the 2017 season, and though the Carter is his G1 win, Green Gratto has earned nearly $ 1 million with nine wins in 53 starts.
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