Michael Tabor's Yonaguska, trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Jose Santos, won the $112,200 Fall Highweight Handicap by three-quarters of a length at Aqueduct on Thursday.
Yonaguska won for the third time in six starts this year. He carried top weight of 131 pounds, conceding 1-to-10 pounds to his seven rivals.
Big E E was runner-up in the holiday feature, with stablemate Voodoo another length behind in the field of sprint specialists.
This was the fifth Fall Highweight victory for Lukas. His previous winners were Mt. Livermore (1985), Carson City (1990), Salt Lake (1992) and Chimes Band (1994).
Yonaguska covered six furlongs in 1:09 3/5 on a fast track to earn $67,320 for Micahel Tabor.
The winner started on the rail and ran on the inside through three furlongs. Santos eased his mount to the outside and had no trouble the rest of the way.
The victory was the second straight for the Cherokee Run colt. In his previous start, Yonaguska won the Sport Page Handicap (gr. III) after failing to have enough qualified earnings to make it into the Breeders' Cup Sprint field on Oct. 27.
"The 1-hole didn't end up hurting us," said Mike Marlow, an assistant to Lukas. "Good horses can overcome things like that. Jose (Santos) rode a very smart race. He put him in a great spot. Yonaguska is going to go to California. I think he will go a mile now. He seems to be relaxing good, and he's gotten a lot more mature from his two-year-old year to his three-year-old year and I hope it continues from his three-year-old year to his four-year-old year."
"I wanted to get him outside," Santos said. "Things fell into place. The last thing he needed was to be down inside with 131 pounds. I rode him like he was the best horse because he was. He looked perfect in the paddock. As good as he is now, I think he will be a better 4-year-old. Mike Marlow did a great job."
Yonaguska returned $5.90, $3.70 and $2.60. Big E E paid $7.10 and $3.10 and Voodoo showed at $2.90.