Tommy Macho comes home strong to win the Fred W. Hooper Stakes.<br><a target="blank" href="http://photos.bloodhorse.com/AtTheRaces-1/At-the-Races-2016/i-jLMqcz7">Order This Photo</a>

Tommy Macho comes home strong to win the Fred W. Hooper Stakes.
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Coglianese Photos/Lauren King

Tommy Macho Sails Away in Fred Hooper

Macho Uno colt aces season debut with 1:33.53 mile Feb. 6 at Gulfstream.

Tommy Macho made his season debut an impressive one Feb. 6 when he blazed a near track record mile in the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park.

Video: Fred W. Hooper S. (G3)

The 4-year-old son of Macho Uno  closed into a quick pace to run the distance on a fast track in 1:33.53, just .4 off the track record set Feb. 22, 2014 by Normandy Invasion (1:33.13).

It was Tommy Macho's first start for Paul Pompa Jr. and J Stables and trainer Todd Pletcher since a runner-up finish to Financial Modeling in the Dec. 19 Queens County Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, prior to which he took the Discovery Handicap (gr. III) in November to notch his first graded win.

"I think it puts us in a position where we have a lot of options, the Gulfstream (Park) Handicap (gr. II; March 5) being one of them," Pletcher said. "We think he's proven he's effective at a mile and a mile and an eighth. We like what he's done since he's been down here this winter. He mentally matured a bit. He behaved really well in the paddock. He's gained weight. He's filled out into a nice 4-year-old."

Wildcat Red showed the way through an opening quarter in :23.42 in the Fred Hooper, tracked by Just Call Kenny to his outside. Saez found himself seventh of eight and about six lengths off the lead as a half went in :45.49, but knew he had a lot of horse.

"The pace was a little tough," said jockey Luis Saez. "We tried to break and be close but at the half-mile we had the opportunity to come out and when he saw the clear, he took off."

Tommy Macho launched a prolonged rally through three-quarters in 1:09.05, and had stablemate Stanford  and Just Call Kenny to run down turning for home as Wildcat Red conceded the advantage.

"I was very comfortable," Saez said of the run from the head of the lane to the wire. His mount clipped through seven-eighths in 1:21.06 en route to a 3 3/4-length victory.

"He got away in a little bit of a tangle and was further back than I thought he would be, but he put in a beautiful run on the turn and ran well," Pletcher added.

Sent off a generous 7-2 second choice, Tommy Macho paid $9, $4.40, and $2.60. Stanford  completed a one-two finish for Pletcher when starting for the first time since last July, and brought $7 and $4.80 at odds of 7-1. Grande Shores paid $4.20 in third, while 6-5 choice Ami's Flatter came in fourth.

Just Call Kenny, Morning Calm, Wildcat Red and Saraguaro completed the order of finish.

Tommy Macho was bred in Kentucky by John Liviakis out of the Awesome Again mare Starstream, and was a $25,000 purchase by Juan Naciff from the War Horse Place consignment to the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall 2013 yearling sale. He now has a 4-1-3 record from nine starts for earnings of $443,190.