David Jacobson and Southern Equine Stables' Salutos Amigos wouldn't be denied Feb. 7, rallying through the stretch to take the $147,000 Toboggan Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack by 1 3/4 lengths over Dads Caps (VIDEO).
Sent off as the 3-4 favorite in the field of five competing over a fast inner track, Salutos Amigos overcame a four-length deficit in the stretch to reel in 9-5 second-choice Dads Caps. With Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, Salutos Amigos won his third straight stakes race and fourth stakes in the past five starts.
"He's just getting better and better," said Jacobson, who also trains the 5-year-old Salute the Sarge gelding. "(Dads Caps) is a tough horse to run down and beat."
Dads Caps, wearing blinkers, went right to the front and set the pace under Jose Ortiz, covering the half mile in fractions of :23.08 and :45.30 while Salutos Amigos raced fourth, over six lengths behind the speedy front-runner.
Turning for home, Dads Caps was in the clear clear, while Salutos Amigos was angled out to the four path by Ortiz and began to lengthen his stride. He collared Dads Caps inside the final 70 yards to post his eighth win from 26 starts while upping his earnings to $777,406. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:09.53.
"My horse always comes on in the end," Ortiz said of Salutos Amigos. "I just had to hold him together, and he came flying. I thought I might not catch (Dads Caps), but when I asked (Salutos Amigos) he took off."
Dads Caps finished 7 1/2 lengths clear in second. Crafty Dreamer, the longest shot on the board at 42-1, got up by a head to be a distant third, and was followed out by Doubledown Again and Mewannarose. Green Gratto was an early scratch from the race.
"I just told Irad to pay attention and keep an eye on Dads Caps, that he doesn't get away and steal the race, which he almost did," Jacobson said. "It was pretty obvious, putting blinkers on a speed horse, he's not looking to take him back."
Salutos Amigos returned $3.50 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.10 to show. Dads Caps paid $2.90 to place and $2.50 to show, while Crafty Dreamer returned $3.70 to show. The top two finishers shared the co-highweight assignments of 123 pounds.
On Oct. 25, Salutos Amigos won the Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Park, before wheeling back in a week to finish seventh, beaten three lengths, in the $1.5 million Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Nov 1.
He then took the Fall Highweight (gr. III) at Aqueduct Nov. 27 while carrying top weight of 133 pounds, and the Gravesend at Aqueduct Dec. 26.
Salutos Amigos was bred in Kentucky by Joan Hadley Thoroughbreds out of the Luhuk mare Sarasota.