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ELMONT, NY – Richard Lugovich homebred Hold the Salsa powered his way to the front in deep stretch to win Friday’s $100,000 Bertram F. Bongard Stakes at Belmont Park.
Hold the Salsa broke from post 6 under Junior Alvarado at 7/1 odds and tracked from third while Half Right posted opening fractions of :23.93 and :47.43.
Tipped out to run three-wide as he exited the far turn, Hold the Salsa slid past stretch leader Lookin for Trouble at the 1/16 pole before drawing off to win by 1 3/4 lengths.
With Lugovich also serving as trainer, Hold the Salsa posted a final time of 1:24.54 for the 7-furlong fast dirt sprint restricted to juvenile New York-breds.
“I thought he was going to run well here,” Alvarado said. “He’s a big horse for a 2-year-old and I thought the track would favor him today. He broke good and we tried to stalk 3 or 4 lengths behind, but all of a sudden, they started coming back to me and slowed it down a little too much. … When we turned for home, I was riding him, but I knew a little past the 3/16 pole I had that little extra, and when I asked him, he gave it to me.”
Lookin for Trouble held sway late to take second by a 1/2-length over Brooklyn Strong. Half Right, Eagle Orb, and Windy Nations completed the order of finish.
New York One and Thin White Duke were scratched.
Hold the Salsa’s win was his first since defeating fellow New York-breds on debut over this course in mid-July and improved his overall record to 4-2-0-0. The Hold Me Back colt has now earned $91,275.
“I’m thrilled; I’m jumping up and down,” Lugovich said. “I kind of figured he would like Belmont better. He didn’t like the track at Saratoga (where he lost twice). He likes the surface at Belmont, I’m sure.”
Hold the Salsa returned $17.60 to win, $7 to place, and $3.50 to show. Lookin for Trouble brought back $4.50 to place and $3 to show, while Brooklyn Strong paid $4.10 to show.
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