Gary Barber's What a Catch started the day's stakes action in Race 3 with a gate-to-wire win in the fourth running of the $100,000 Rockville Centre for New York bred 2-year-olds on the main track.
One of two entrants for trainer Todd Pletcher, What a Catch dueled even-money favorite Morning Breez for the lead, setting fractions of 23.12 seconds for a quarter-mile and the half in 46.48.
Out of the turn, Hall of Famer jockey John Velazquez piloted What a Catch near the rail and outkicked Morning Breez down the stretch to complete six furlongs in 1:11.21.
"We came out running," Velazquez said. "I thought the horse to the outside of me might make the lead, so I came out running to see what he is going to do. And then he sat off of me and that was perfect and I stayed in front of him. My horse seemed a little bit green, so it kind of helped him to have company. After that, I tried to get away from the horse at the quarter pole, tried to discourage the horse a little bit and I think it worked out."
What a Catch's one-length win improved him to 2-for-2 in his career, with both victories coming on Big Sandy. The chestnut colt, who became the first winner for his freshman sire Justin Phillip with a maiden-breaking effort on June 2, went off as the 9-5 second choice and paid $5.80 on a $2 win bet, improving his career earnings to $97,200.
"I thought he was very professional," said Byron Hughes, assistant to Pletcher. "He acted good in the paddock and post parade, broke sharp and fought off the second-place horse. He's always been pretty classy; a bit precocious 2-year-old. He's been benefitting from that and stepping up every time we've asked him."
Morning Breez was the runner-up after winning his debut on June 23 for trainer Carlos Martin. Analyze the Odds, also for Pletcher, finished third in his first start since a fifth-place effort in the Tremont on June 9.
Morrison and Over Salty completed the order of finish. Lake Party was scratched.