OZONE PARK, NY – Green Gratto proved uncatchable in the 117th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap for older sprinters, holding off Unified in gate-to-wire fashion to register a 54-1 upset on Saturday.
Ridden by Chris DeCarlo, Green Gratto broke on top in the field of nine, sweeping through opening fractions of 22.56 and 45.64 while Unified, favored at 4-5, sat 1 1/2 lengths behind in second. Under Javier Castellano, Unified loomed large with a three-wide move into the stretch, but Green Gratto dug in through the final strides to hold on by a neck.
Green Gratto completed the seven-furlong Carter, the first Grade 1 of the year on the NYRA circuit, in 1:23.25.
“He broke running and I was able to let him get into a good rhythm,” said DeCarlo. “I thought that they would move at me a little earlier, like midway around the turn, but when nobody was right on him, I was able to give him a breather and let him save himself. When we turned in, I still had a lot of horse and he kept on running. He tries. He keeps the same, steady pace. He’s a big horse and he’s got a real long stride.”
The race was Green Gratto’s 53rd career start and third try in the Carter. He finished second at 53-1 to Dads Caps in the 2015 edition but was a well-beaten eighth last year. With a 9-9-8 lifetime record, the $240,000 winner’s share of the Carter purse pushed his earnings past the seven-figure mark to $1,100,872.
The victory gave Gaston Grant, who also co-owns the horse with his brother, Anthony, his first Grade 1 win as a trainer. This was the first Grade 1 for DeCarlo since he won the 1986 Haskell Invitational with Wise Times.
“Well, I guess that’s every trainer’s dream,” Grant said of the milestone. “I knew he had it in him, but he had to put it together in the afternoon. We finally put it together this afternoon. Chris, he did a great job. I can’t say enough because he knew what he was going to do. I didn’t say much to him. After Kendrick [Carmouche, rider of King Kranz, No. 5] was committed to another horse, Chris is my friend. I said, ‘Chris is there, and he’s a good rider.'”
Tommy Macho, who was boxed in behind Green Gratto and Unified in the stretch run, checked in at third. All Star Red, Ocean Knight, Spartiatis, King Kranz, Sassicaia, and Awesome Banner completed the order of finish.
Green Gratto returned $110, $19.80, and $8.40. Unified brought back $3.10 and $2.30, while Tommy Macho paid $2.90 to show.