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OZONE PARK, NY – Hold the Salsa ran down Market Alert in the final furlong and fended off It’s Gravy’s late bid from the outside for a victory by a neck in Sunday’s $250,000 New York Stallion Stakes Series (NYSSS) Great White Way in the final stakes of the 18-day fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Owned, bred, and trained by Richard Lugovich, Hold the Salsa registered his second stakes win in 3 attempts, adding to his victory in the Bertram F. Bongard on October 2 at Belmont going 7 furlongs.
Running the same one-turn distance in the 36th running of the Great White Way for eligible New York-sired juveniles, Hold the Salsa was kept off the speed by jockey Junior Alvarado as The King Cheek led the 11-horse field through the opening 1/4-mile in 22.80 seconds on the fast main track.
Market Alert took the lead with the 1/2-mile in 46.45 with the favorite Dreamer’s Disease, who was rushed into contention after a slow start, in close pursuit. Out of the turn, Market Alert was kept to the inside by Jose Lezcano, fending off a tiring Dreamer’s Disease who took back. But Alvarado set down Hold the Salsa from the outside, where he surged past Market Alert and pressed on as It’s Gravy made his push from the outside.
Hold the Salsa prevailed in hitting the wire in 1:25.70, registering his third win in 6 career starts.
“I was pretty confident coming into today. He had already won going 7 furlongs,” Lugovich said. “He’s a pretty hard horse to gauge because he’s very quiet. Coming into the winner’s circle, he doesn’t look like he has much energy, but he’s a very good horse. He’s just quiet.”
Off at 5/1, the Hold Me Back colt returned $12.40 on a $2 win bet. The New York bred more than doubled his career earnings to $237,775.
“When he’s good, he takes me there,” said Alvarado, who will head to Gulfstream to ride in the winter. “By the 5/16, I was very happy with where he was and the way he was traveling. I knew he was going to have a little something left at the end. He showed up today. I’m happy to have won the last stakes of the meet.”
Lugovich said he might try Hold the Salsa on turf in his sophomore campaign.
“It’s interesting because if you look at his breeding, he’s probably a mile and 1/4 horse on the grass,” he said. “He’s only a 2-year-old, so he could see that eventually. I’ll see what we can do with him next year and see how he comes up. I’m in no rush with him.”
It’s Gravy, trained by Kelly Breen, maintained his maiden status but has run in the money in all 4 of his starts, moving to 0-2-2 after besting Market Alert by 1 length.
Windy Nations, Prospect Mountain, Horn of Plenty, Dreamer’s Disease, The King Cheek New York One, Jacoba, and Jack’s American Pie completed the order of finsh. Uno was scratched.
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