Grupo 7C Racing Stable's Grand Tito took charge at the three-sixteenths pole and held off Midnight Cello and Csaba to win the $100,000 Miami Mile Handicap April 19 at Calder Casino & Race Course (VIDEO).
The 4-year-old Candy Ride colt captured his second win of the season, scoring by three-quarters of a length under Santiago Gonzalez. Antonio Sano trains Grand Tito, who was sent off at odds of 14-1.
"The instructions were to send him to the lead, and thank God everything went well," said Gonzalez. "This was my first stakes win in the United States. I feel very content and thankful to God for this victory. It is very important (for me) right now."
Gonzalez said he rode in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Panama previously.
The Miami Mile was transferred from Calder's turf course to the main track, thus losing its grade III status until the American Graded Stakes Committee reviews the race to determine if it should be restored. The main track was rated "good."
For Sano, the race being taken off the turf was not an issue for Grand Tito.
"Turf or no turf for me is not a problem," said Sano.
Decisive Moment sprinted into command early and set solid fractions of : 23.45 and :47.03 with Grand Tito tracking from second, never more than 1 1/2 lengths back. The winner moved to engage Decisive Moment on the turn, getting his head in front while completing six furlongs in 1:12.01.
Four-time stakes-placed Midnight Cello, who raced in fifth and then fourth in the opening stages, launched a strong rally off the turn and was rapidly closing but could not get to the winner. Csaba finished third, another three-quarters of a length back.
Grand Tito was timed in 1:38.60 while notching his second stakes victory and first on dirt. He finished in a dead-heat for the victory in the 1 1/16-mile Showing Up Stakes on the turf last July at Gulfstream Park and finished a creditable third behind Amen Kitten and Midnight Cello in the Tropical Park Derby in October on the Calder lawn.
The colt was second in his 2014 debut on a sloppy main track at Gulfstream and won a one-mile optional claiming race on turf at Tampa Bay Downs in February before finishing fifth in the Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 29 at Gulfstream one race prior to the Miami Mile.
Appleton winner Hey Leroy was never a factor as th 17-10 favorite and finished 10th of 11.
Grand Tito paid $31.40, $8.60, and $3.20 while Midnight Cello returned $13 and $7. Csaba was worth $4.60.
Grand Tito has a 5-2-1 record from 15 career starts and $167,685 in earnings. He was bred in Kentucky by Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton, and Ben P. Walden Jr., and sold for $225,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale.
His dam is the graded/group-winning Common Grounds mare Golden Arches. Second dam Echoes in Eternity is a full sister to 1982 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) Gate Del Sol and a half sister to French champion 2-year-old filly Tersa.