By Jerry Bossert
Carrying top weight of 133 pounds, favored Salutos Amigos rallied from off the pace to take the $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap (gr. III) by 1 3/4 lengths over longshot Mewannarose on the Nov. 27 Thanksgiving Day card at Aqueduct Race Track (VIDEO).
Sent off as the 2-1 choice, Salutos Amigos rallied from sixth, splitting horses under Cornelio Velasquez to win for the sixth time in his career from 24 starts, while improving his record over Aqueduct's main track to 3-for-4. He has now earned $627,406.
"He likes to be covered up and behind horses," Velasquez said. "When I put him in the clear, he was the best horse. I wanted to follow (Bakken), but he stopped at the quarter pole. I put him in the clear at the eighth pole, and I had a lot of horse."
Weekend Hideaway and the filly La Verdad battled from the start through a half-mile in :46.25 over Aqueduct's sloppy, sealed strip, while Salutos Amigos raced in sixth in the field of seven.
After being tipped out into the middle of the track, Salutos Amigos unleashed a powerful finish to first pass Captain Serious, who grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch, before easily holding off Mewannarose for the win.
Captain Serious held on for third, while Crafty Dreamer, Bakken, Weekend Hideawa, and La Verdad completed the order of finish. Strapping Groom, Tightend Touchdown, River Rocks and Bama Bound all scratched from the race. Tightend Touchdown, River Rocks, and Strapping Groom, who would have been the highweight in the race at 134 pounds had he started, are set to to run in the Nov. 29 Fabulous Strike Stakes at Penn National Race Course. That race was resheduled from Nov. 26 due to a snowstorm that struck the East Coast.
Salutos Amigos completed the six furlongs in 1:10.78 and returned $6 to win, $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show. Mewannarose paid $12.60 to place and $5.30 to show, while Captain Serious returned $3.80 to show.
"I wasn't concerned at all with the wet track, because he was 3-for-3 in the mud," trainer David Jacobson said. "I wanted it to keep raining all day. I was doing a rain dance. Cornelio did an amazing job as usual."
A 4-year-old gelding by Salute the Sarge—Sarasota, by Luhuk, Salutos Amigos was bred in Kentucky by Joan Hadley and races for Southern Equine Stable and his trainer.
After winning just one of his first 14 starts, Salutos Amigos has blossomed under the care of Jacobson, winning five of his next 10 starts since April 4, including the Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Park on Oct. 25.
He was wheeled back quickly to run in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park, where he finished seventh, beaten just three lengths behind winner Work All Week.
"We'll take a look at the Gravesend (Dec. 26) next, but it's up to the horse to let us know," Jacobson said.
Salutos Amigos has a record of 6-2-4 from 24 starts,