Etude's advantage was widening for jockey Luis Garcia as they reached the wire in the one-mile event in 1:37.97 over the fast main track. Saratoga Lulaby edged Not for Money by 1 3/4 lengths to finish second.
"He was kind of green the first few times he ran, sort of awkward and not knowing what was going on," Small said. "He finally caught on. The blinkers and his catching on sort of happened at the same time. We couldn’t be more pleased with him. He’s a beautiful big horse with a real nice stride and a wonderful disposition.”
Etude, who raced in hand the whole way, paid $5.60, $3.60 and $2.40 as the favorite in the field of nine.
The Maryland-bred gray son of Include --Groovy Feeling (Groovy) has won three of six lifetime starts with three seconds. His first added money start netted a $48,000 winning purse for owner/breeder Fitzhugh LLC and brought the colt's earnings to $102,240. Etude is not nominated to the Triple Crown.
Johnny Z. swung over from his outside post to get the early advantage, setting fractions of :23 3/5, :46 4/5 and 1:12 4/5 before backing out quickly. Etude, racing off the rail, circled his rivals on the turn and got the lead in upper stretch. He finished under a firm hand ride while drawing off.
"The race went perfectly for him," Garcia said. "I didn’t have any problem at all. I just sat outside and let him do his thing. He did it real easy.”
Saratoga Lulaby ($5.20, $3.80), pressed Johnny Z. for the lead and finished gamely for second under Dyn Panell, while Not for Money ($3.20) rallied for third after steadying in the stretch.
Cherokee Country, Brass Run, Another Vow, My Three Boys, Johnny Z. and West Coast Flier completed the order.