Turco Bravo split rivals in midstretch and went on to a one-length victory over favored Dontbetwithbruno, upsetting Sunday's $125,000 Stymie at Aqueduct Racetrack for the second straight year and snapping an eight-race losing streak that dated back to last year's edition.
After settling in last while Stormin Monarcho towed the field of six through an opening quarter-mile in 23.44 seconds and a half in 48.15, Turco Bravo began moving up along the inside and secured a spot just behind the leader midway on the far turn. Straightening for home, jockey Manny Franco tipped the Chilean-bred gelding off the rail and between horses, where he proceeded to outkick Dontbetwithbruno and Madefromlucky to the wire.
His winning time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:50.96. Sent off at 20-1 – the longest shot on the board – he returned $42.40 for a $2 win bet.
“[Trainer Gary Contessa] said just to watch what they were going to do in the beginning of the race and I saw a couple of horses go to the lead,” said Franco. “So I thought I'd give [Turco Bravo] a chance and go with him little by little from the half-mile and get to the wire. He responded really good. He was perfect behind [horses] and I just tried to get my horse to kick and he did.”
The victory was the 13th in 49 lifetime starts for the 7-year-old son of Caesarion, who was a multiple stakes winner in Chile before being sent to the United States late in 2014. Purchased by Winning Move Stable after his first start at Gulfstream Park West, Turco Bravo made his first appearance at Aqueduct in the Queens County in December 2014, finishing fifth, and then put together a trio of close-up finishes in stakes before scoring his first win in last year's Stymie, which he won at 9-1.
After finishing third in an optional claimer at the Big A on February 20, his eighth straight loss, Turco Bravo was supplemented to the Stymie. With the winner's purse of $75,000, his lifetime earnings now stand at $436,968.
“He trained real well heading into the race,” said John Campo, assistant to Contessa. “We took a shot, and it all worked out.”
Madefromlucky, who represented trainer Todd Pletcher's final shot of the day at reaching the 4,000-win milestone, was a length back in third. Completing the order of finish were Our Caravan, Stormin Monarcho, and Indycott.
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