Paul Pompa Jr.'s Tommy Macho powered to the front around the far turn and fended off game long shot Conquest Big E the length of the stretch to snap a six-race losing streak in Saturday's $175,000 Fred W. Hooper (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 33rd running of the one-mile Hooper for 4-year-olds and up was among eight stakes, five graded, worth $17.225 million on a 12-race program anchored by the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1), the world's richest race.
“He's a cool horse,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “I give the horse a lot of credit. He loves Gulfstream. He loves the one-turn mile. He's been awfully good to us. We'll probably skip the [G3 Hal's Hope, Feb. 24th] and go to the race on March 31 [G2 Gulfstream Park Mile].”
Favored at 2-1 in the field of nine, Tommy Macho ($6.20) ran one mile in 1:36.10 over a fast main track to win by three-quarters of a length over Conquest Big E. Tale of Silence was third, another 4 ¼ lengths back, with Giuseppe the Great fourth.
It was the sixth career victory and third at Gulfstream for 6-year-old Tommy Macho, who also opened his campaign with wins in the 2016 Hooper and Hal's Hope last January, his most recent triumph.
Moves Like Ali was fastest from the gate and took the field through a quarter-mile in 24.09 seconds and a half in 46.57, as jockey Luis Saez had Tommy Macho poised to strike in the clear three wide. They surged to the lead approaching the stretch and were followed by 15-1 Conquest Big E, who chased the leader down the lane but was unable to get by as they separated from their rivals.
“That stretch run was really impressive,” jockey Luis Saez said. “He was really ready for this race today. He broke well, we got a perfect position, and when we hit the stretch he just took off. I feel blessed and proud with how my season is going.”
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