Grupo 7C Racing Stable’s Grand Tito battled for the lead throughout the off-the-turf $100,000 Grade 3 Miami Mile Handicap at Calder Casino & Race Course and held off in a battle down the stretch to score his first graded stakes win.
Grand Tito pressed pacesetter Decisive Moment until he overtook the leader close to the three-sixteenths pole. Down the stretch he put away Decisive Moment, held off the closing runs from both Midnight Cello and Csaba, who each raced to catch up to the leader, and captured the win by three-quarters of a length.
Fractional times for the race were 23:45, :47.03, 1:12.01, with a final time of 1:38.60.
"The instructions were to send him to the lead, and thank God everything went well,” said jockey Santiago Gonzalez. “This was my first stakes win in the United States. I feel very content and thankful to God for this victory. It is very important (for me) right now."
Gonzalez said he rode in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Panama previously.
Grand Tito came fifth in his start leading up to the Miami Mile, which came in the 1-mile Grade 3 Appleton Stakes on the turf at Gulfstream Park on March 29. His only other stakes win was last July at Gulfstream when he dead-heated for the victory in the 1 1/16-mile Showing Up Stakes on the turf.
Grand Tito paid $31.40, $8.60, and $6.20 for the win. Midnight Cello returned $13.00 and $7.00 for second place, and Csaba brought $4.60 for third.
Rounding out the order of finish were Decisive Moment; Flatter This; Padilla; Alley Oop Oop; Tale of the Heart; Travelin Man; Hey Leroy; and Buffalo. Scratched horses were Dad’z Laugh; Dangerous Lad; Monument Hill; and Summer Front.
While sunny skies prevailed during the Miami Mile, heavy rains throughout the week in South Florida forced the race to be taken off-the-turf on race day. For trainer Antonio Sano, the race being taken off the turf was not an issue for the horse going into the race.
“Turf or no turf for me is not a problem,” said Sano. “For me all races are important. The maiden or stake – for me, for my owner, for my family – it’s very important.”