In the six-furlong test over the inner track, the 7-year-old horse and Story to Tell jumped out for the early lead in the field of six. Green Gratto gained a half-length advantage after going a quarter in :22.6, but Story to Tell continued to pressure him throughout. Even-money favorite Stallwalkin Dude, who got the best of Green Gratto in his last four starts, raced off the pace in fifth, behind Life in Shambles and All Star Red.
Clocking a half mile in a quick :45.34, Green Gratto, under jockey Kendrick Carmouche, kept his advantage and remained on the rail through the turn. The New Jersey-bred dug in as the field crept closer down the stretch and held on to win by a head over All Star Red, who rallied late from third after going 3 wide around the turn. The final time was 1:10.74.
Stallwalkin Dude, who was checked while trying to find room at the three-eighths pole, was another neck back in third. Life in Shambles, Story to Tell, and Classy Class completed the field.
Green Gratto paid $7.30, $4.50, and $2.40 across the board. All Star Red returned $11 and $3.40, while Stallwalkin Dude paid $2.10.
"This was just hard work," trainer Gaston Grant said. "Kendrick (Carmouche) told me to put the cheaters on him so he can see horses coming at him after his last race, and we did that and it paid off.
"Kendrick said he was just going to gun him and that's what happened. 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. 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."
Grant added that his goal is to get a grade 1 win with Green Gratto and will point him to the seven-furlong Carter Handicap in April at Aqueduct.
"Me and Gaston decided that we were going to put the blinkers back on and I think it made the difference," Carmouche said. "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, the dark bay son of Here's Zealous has a record of 8-8-9 from 51 career starts, with earnings of $859,538. In 2016, he won the Hockessin Stakes at Delaware Park and the year before he took the Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) and the Gravesend Stakes, both at Aqueduct. He finished third, by a half-length, in last year's Toboggan.