Ridden by John Velazquez to victory over eight other older horses in the six-furlong event, favored Sage Valley completed the distance in 1:10.51 on the fast main track. He had not raced since a 6 3/4-length romp in the Mr. Nasty overnight stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack Nov. 9.
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez sent out the 4-year-old son of Discreet Cat, who now has won five of eight career starts. Dubb claimed him last year for $50,000 from a third-place finish in an Aqueduct allowance race in February 2012.
Fourth off the pace set by Manito, who dashed to the front for a quarter-mile in :22.84 and a half-mile in :45.77, Sage Valley moved up approaching the final turn after five-eighths in :57.97. He passed Hardened Wildcat, who had taken the lead turning for home, at the furlong mark and drew off. Laurie's Rocket closed for third, 3 1/2 lengths behind the runner-up.
"I thought there was plenty of speed in the race and if I could sit just off the lead and make a run down the lane that would be perfect," Velazquez said. "He responded just the way a horse should."
Sage Valley carried 114 pounds paid $6.60, $4, and $2.80, while Hardened Wildcat brought $3.80 and $2.60, and Laurie's Rocket returned $2.80.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Buck Pond Farm out of the Cryptoclearance mare Ashwood C C.
"The race came up pretty tough," Rodriguez said. "I was looking for a race in New York, but I'm glad I came to this one. He ran great.
"He's had some issues so we have to take our time with him and he'll perform."