Green Gratto surged to the early lead from the inside post, set the pace and outkicked a late charging All Star Red in deep stretch to capture the 124th running of the Grade 3, $125,000 Toboggan for 4-year-olds and up on the inner dirt track Monday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Owned by Gaston Grant, his trainer, and Anthony Grant, Green Gratto recorded his first win in six starts, wiring the field after setting fast early fractions of 22.60 seconds for a quarter-mile and 45.34 for the half.
Green Gratto maintained the lead coming out of the turn as jockey Kendrick Carmouche kept the 7-year-old near the rail to fend off a challenging Story to Tell. All Star Red made a mid-stretch push, though Green Gratto held on to win by a head in completing six furlongs in 1:10.74.
"It was just good that team worked well together," Carmouche said. "Me and Gaston decided that we were going to cut the blinkers back on Green Gratto and I think it made the difference with us being the ones in the winner's circle today. He felt the other horses coming and he just kept himself motivated.
"All I had to do was point his head forward," he added. "I don't even worry about fractions with him. He's got a stride bigger than most sprinters so you just keep him into it, keep him motivated, and nine times out of ten, he'll hold on."
Off at 5-2, Green Gratto won his first graded stakes since the 2015 Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap. The New Jersey-bred paid $7.30 on a $2 win wager and improved his career earnings to $859,538.
Green Gratto defeated 4-5 post-time favorite Stallwalkin' Dude for the first time in four starts. Both were racing for the first time since Stallwalkin' Dude defeated Green Gratto by two lengths in the $100,000 Gravesend on December 18 at the Big A.
"Kendrick said he was just going to gun him and that's what happened," Gaston Grant said. "Last time, Kendrick told me he saw Stallwalkin' Dude a bit late and he tried to fight him back but by that time it was too late. That's why he said to put the cheaters on him to see who's coming at him and it showed. Kendrick thought nobody could run with him. He knew he had the controlling speed. I normally don't give any instructions to the jockey, I just tell them to 'ride your race' and he decided he was going to go and the outcome was good. It was kind of frightening [the final yards], I was hoping the wire came a little earlier but it was a good day.
"We'll see how he comes out of this race," he continued. "We'll try to see if we can get a Grade 1 out of him. Our main goal this year is to get him to the [Grade 1] Carter [Handicap on April 8]."
All Star Red, for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, held on for second.
David Jacobson-trainee Stallwalkin' Dude, who spotted the winner five pounds, finished third. Life in Shambles, Story to Hell and Classy Class completed the order of finish. The Great War, who is expected to run in the Forego at Turfway Park on Saturday, was scratched.
Source: NYRA (Brian Bohl)