Still last at the top of the stretch, Salutos Amigos and jockey Cornelio Velasquez rallied near the center of the track and just edged Calculator at the wire. Owned by his trainer David Jacobson and Southern Equine Stable, Salutos Amigos completed the seven furlong test in 1:23.15 on the muddy track.
Jacobson was thrilled to see the veteran 6-year-old Salute the Sarge gelding nail down his first grade I score in his eighth stakes win.
"Even though he is a gelding, he deserves a grade I under his belt," Jacobson said. "I don't think we got the best trip. He's such a good horse. I think he overcame going wide, getting bumped. Usually, he breaks a little better - he's the first one out of the gate, and then we drop him back. So, I was concerned for about a minute eight or nine seconds. It's all heart with him. And [runner-up] Calculator is a real horse."
Under Cornelio Velasquez, who guided Salutos Amigos to a close runner-up finish to Rock Fall in last year's Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I), the veteran would not be denied Saturday. After trailing while Green Gratto cut a half-mile in :45.06, Salutos Amigos continued to race last entering the stretch, where two-time Carter winner Dads Caps opened a three-length advantage.
But Salutos Amigos and Calculator were both rallying strongly on the outside with Salutos Amigos getting up in the final steps.
"I had a lot of horse last sixteenth, he did very well and won the race," Velasquez said. "The horse ran very well."
Favored Salutos Amigos returned $5.10, $3.30, and $2.50 across the board while Calculator paid $4.90 to place and $4 to show. Dads Caps held third, paying $4.40 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by Joan Hadley Thoroughbreds, Salutos Amigos has won 12 of 38 starts and earned more than $1.5 million.