Dogwood Stable's Heckle broke alertly with jockey John Velazquez and sped home unchallenged in the stretch to post an easy victory in Saturday's $110,200 Tremont Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-olds at Belmont Park.
The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Hennessy atoned for a poor performance in his last start, a fourth-place finish at odds of 1-2 in the Three Chimneys at Churchill Downs on May 3, with a 3 1/4-length victory over Adage. Hasslefree was third, a length farther back. The final time for the 5 1/2-furlong Tremont was 1:04 3/5 on a fast track.
Heckle opened up a six-length lead when roused in the stretch and won driving.
"I pressed the button at the quarter-pole and he accelerated," Velazquez said. "He did it nice and easy."
Best To Be King, the 6-5 favorite in the field of seven, faded to sixth after chasing Heckle through fractions of :22 1/5 and :57 4/5. Adage came on for second on the inside, overtaking Hasslefree in the final furlong after finding his stride late for jockey Edgar Prado.
Heckle broke his maiden in his debut on a muddy track at Keeneland by 12 1/2 lengths. He has now won two of three starts while pushing his career earnings to $103,045. He earned $66,120 for Saturday's win.
"I thought that was an excellent field," Pletcher said. "Anytime you can win open lengths over a field like that, it's pretty impressive."
Bred in Kentucky by Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds and Orpendale, Heckle is out of the Spectacular Bid mare Bid Me Adieu. He was purchased at Keeneland in July for $90,000.
The 5-2 second choice, Heckle paid $7.90, $4.90 and $3.70. Adage returned $8.30 and $5.10. Hasslefree, ridden by Jose Santos, paid $5.30. The $2 exacta was worth $61.50.
Bossanova romped to a 13 1/4 -length victory in the $117,000 Mike Lee Stakes for New York bred 3-year-olds. Under Edgar Prado for trainer James Bond, the Pine Bluff colt went seven furlongs in 1:22 4/5 to earn $70,200 for Lorraine and Rod Rodriguez with his first win in four starts this year.
Bossanova returned $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10. Acceptable Venture was second, paying $2.80 and $2.30. Looking Grand was $3.10 to show.