Hey Leroy Pounces From Last in Appleton

Hey Leroy Pounces From Last in Appleton
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King
Hey Leroy gets up late to win the Appleton Stakes.
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Hey Leroy ran down longtime leader Mr. Online and won the $100,000 Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) in the final stride March 29 at Gulfstream Park (VIDEO). 

Making his stakes debut, the former claimer flashed a swift turn of foot through the stretch and completed a last-to-first rally for Alex Solis, catching Mr. Online at the finish line at 11-1 odds.

Midnight Cello showed some brief early speed before Mr. Online took charge down the backstretch to take control and opened a clear lead, tracked by Grand Tito and 2-1 favorite Salto.

Opening up by 2 1/2 lengths in early stretch for Kendrick Carmouche, Mr. Online looked poised for a winning return after his close second in the Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) last time out. But a victory was not to be.

Swinging out for the drive, Hey Leroy rapidly closed with ground-consuming strides to snatch the win in a scintillating finish, completing the one-mile test in 1:32.49 on firm turf. 

Always in a striking position, Salto had little when called on and finished third in the nine-horse field.

In his previous start, Hey Leroy won a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer March 15 to snap a four-race streak of runner-up finishes. He opened 2014 on winning note, going a mile the day after New Year's day.

Azpurua claimed Hey Leroy for $20,000 out of a fourth-place finish at Saratoga Race Course last summer when owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

"Going into the stretch, I told the rider, 'Don't give him too much,' and he did a nice ride because he took care of the horse, and the horse finished strong like he always does," Azpurua said. "He's going to be a nice horse, and he showed so far that he can make it.                       

"We're going to take it easy on him now and wait for the right spot for him."       

Kentucky-bred Hey Leroy returned $25.60, $9.40 and $4.40. Mr. Online, also at 2-1, paid $4 and $3, and Salto was worth $2.80. Tetradrachm was fourth, followed by Grand Tito, Midnight Cello, Fredericksburg, Kharafa, and Five Iron to complete the order of finish. Cozzetti, Csaba, and Catron were scratched.

A 4-year-old gelding by Any Given Saturday  , Hey Leroy has bankrolled $174,991 since his original purchase for a mere $2,000 at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale. Hidden Brook consigned on behalf of Spruce Lane Farm, which bred him out of the winning Gulch mare Galashey.  

"He was giving his heart and down the stretch he gave even more," Solis said.

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