OZONE PARK, N.Y. – That long sought-after Grade 1 victory finally came to the 6-year-old gelding Salutos Amigos on Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack in the $400,000 Carter Handicap.
Southern Equine Stables and David Jacobson’s Salutos Amigos, the 3/2 favorite in the field of eight older males, posted a head victory over California shipper Calculator in the seven-furlong Carter.
Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, Salutos Amigos trailed the field for the first half-mile. Green Gratto set the pace over the muddy and sealed main track. After fractions of 22.36 and 45.06 seconds, Green Gratto had relinquished the lead to Dads Caps, who appeared on his way to winning his third consecutive Carter.
But Salutos Amigos and Calculator were mounting rallies in the middle of the track, and passed Dads Cap as the wire loomed. Those rivals exchanged bumps in deep stretch, neither giving an inch, but it was Salutos Amigos whose head who hit the wire first.
“Even though he is a gelding, he deserves a Grade 1 under his belt,” said co-owner Jacobson, who also trains the son of Salute the Sarge. “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.”
Dads Caps held on to finish third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Calculator. Anchor Down, Stallwalkin’ Dude, Sassicaia, Majestic Affair, and Green Gratto completed the order of finish.
The final time was 1:23.15 over a muddy and sealed track.
Salutos Amigos, the 123-pound highweight, returned $5.10 for a $2 win wager.
The Carter victory elevated Salutos Amigos earnings to $1,542,406. His record now stands at 12-5-4 in 38 starts.