Daniel Borislow's gritty Toccet posted a 2 1/2-length victory over Bham in Aqueduct's Remsen Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-olds at 1 1/8 mile Saturday.
The John Scanlan-trained son of Awesome Again, with Jorge Chavez riding, won for the fifth time in his last six starts. His only loss in that span was a ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) when he was hampered by a wide 13-post. The Remsen was Toccet's second win since the Breeders' Cup. He won the Laurel Futurity (gr. III) Nov. 16.
The winning time Saturday was 1:50 2/5 on a fast track.
Toccet broke on top in an opening quarter of :23 2/5, but allowed Bahm, with John Velazquez riding, to take control by about a length through fractions of :46 4/5 for the half-mile and 1:11 2/5 for six furlongs. Toccet took over at the eighth pole after a mile in 1:36 4/5 and cruised home without a serious challenge, although he shook his head for no apparent reason.
Chavez said it was the light rain that Toccet reacted to.
"He showed today how good he is," Chavez said. "He can come from behind or he can win just off the win. I wasn't concerned about (Bham). I know that I have a nice horse."
"This horse can do it all," said Scanlan of Toccet. "He can win on the front, back or sideways. I thought he was the best horse in the race. I was confident he would win when I entered him. He had a fitness edge in here."
Bham ran a big race to hold second.
"I was super pleased with the way he ran," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "This was a really great race for him. He laid down some pretty solid fractions, but the winner pressed him and really ran a great race. This is an improving colt."
Empire Maker, the 7-5 favorite, stumbled at the start and lacked a sustained rally after moving into position some five lengths behind the leaders. He finished third with Jerry Bailey in the irons, about three lengths behind Bham.
"He had some problems at the gate," said trainer Bobby Frankel. "He stumbled at the start, and that really cost him. I thought he would be laying up third. It's been tough for closers on this track. I'm not discouraged. This horse needs more racing. We'll be all right. There is a chance he might run back in the Hollywood Futurity."
A Kentucky homebred, Toccet won the Champagne (gr. I) at Belmont Oct. 5. The $120,000 winner's share improved Toccet's career earnings to $511,710. Now proven around two turns, Toccet's connections are thinking about next year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
In the meantime, Scanlan said he is considering a trip to Dubai with his colt or staying closer to home in New Orleans.
"I don't like Gulfstream for this horse," he said of his winter plans.
Remsen winners that have become Kentucky Derby winners are Johnstown, Carry Back, Northern Dancer, Pleasant Colony, Go for Gin and Thunder Gulch.
Sent off the 8-5 second choice in a field of eight, Toccet paid $5.30, $3.40 and $2.10. Bham returned $4.40 and $2.40. Empire Maker paid $2.10. The $2 exacta was $18.40.