Hesanoldsalt Makes Grade in Fred W. Hooper

Live Oak Plantation's favored Hesanoldsalt repelled a mid-stretch challenge from Rehoboth and Dry Martini to secure his first stakes victory in the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III) on a sloppy track at Calder Race Course Saturday.

The 3-year-old Nick Zito-trained colt surged past runaway early leader Siphon City heading into the far turn and was never headed under Rafael Bejarano. Under heavy pressure in the lane, Hesanoldsalt responded to urging from Bejarano to win going away by 3 1/4 lengths while completing the 1 1/16-mile test for 3 and up in 1:51 4/5.

Zito sent out 3-year-olds Pies Prospect and Andromeda's Hero to capture the last two renewals of the Hooper as well.

"He's a quality horse, but just didn't have it all together earlier this year to run with the Barbaros and Bernardinis, but he ran good in the Pegasus (third) and looks like he might be coming around," Zito said of Hesanoldsalt.

Rehoboth, ridden by Manoel Cruz, edged Dry Martini and Elvis Trujillo by three-quarters of a length for second.

Siphon City set sizzling fractions of :22 1/5 and :46 before giving way after six furlongs in 1:12 1/5. Hesanoldsalt shook loose of B.B. Best and Dazzling Dr. Cevin coming off the turn as Rehoboth challenged on the outside. Dry Martini rallied from farther out on the track but could not finish with the first two.

"I just sat back and waited because I was sure (Siphon City) would quit on the front end, as he did. The only strategy from that point was to keep him in the clear. We had to withstand a little pressure through the stretch but as I asked him for more he dug in."

Hesanoldsalt broke his maiden at Calder last December and went on to compete against some of the country's top sophomores in 2006.

A dark bay son of the great mud sire Broad Brush, Hesanoldsalt, ended a three-race losing streak that included a fourth-place showing in the Travers (gr. I) and a third in the Pegasus (gr. III).

He was coming off an eighth-place showing in his grass debut, the Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 11. He also ran fourth in the Peter Pan (gr. I), fifth in the Florida Derby (gr. I) and seventh in the Gotham (gr. III) among his 11 starts this year.

"This race encourages us to hope we might have a nice 4-year-old next year," Zito said. "Forget the grass race. That just wasn't his game. If he's tough enough, we might bring him back in the Hal's Hope at Gulfstream. Then, you might find out whether he could take the next step up to a race like the Donn."

Overall, Hesanoldsalt owns a 4-1-3 record in 14 starts with earnings of $267,738.

Out of the Cox's Ridge mare Salty Gal, the homebred Hesanoldsalt paid $64.0, $3.60, and $3.40.

Rehoboth, coming off a win at Calder in the Carl Rose Classic Nov. 11, returned $3.80 and $3, completing a $29.80 exacta.

Dry Martini was $7.40 to show in his graded stakes debut.

Big Lover finished fourth, followed by Dazzling Dr. Cevin, Sir Jackie, Supervisor, B.B. Best, We Can Seek, Itsawonderful Life and Siphon City.

(Chart, Equibase)