02/02/2013 6:12PM

Aqueduct: Toboggan completes Head Heart Hoof's rise from claimer to graded stakes winner

Barbara D. Livingston
Head Heart Hoof, claimed for $35,000 last February, carries Cornelio Velasquez to victory in the Grade 3 Toboggan.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Owner Michael Dubb thought he was getting a useful horse when he claimed head Heart Hoof for $35,000 last February. He didn’t think he was getting a graded stakes horse.

 But Head Heart Hoof became a graded winner Saturday when he held off fellow New York-bred Johannesburg Smile by one-half length to win the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan at Aqueduct. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Sinai in third. P J’s Magical Wink, Isn’t He Perfect, and a slow starting Mine Over Matter completed the order of finish.

 The first-and third-place finishers are trained by Rudy Rodriguez.

 The win was the 18th from 50 starts for head Heart Hoof, a 7-year-old gelding by Intidab. He was coming off a win in the True and Blue Stakes here on Jan. 9 in which he ran the fastest six furlongs of the meet.

 “He loves the inner track. I think that’s probably why he’s running this good right now,” Rodriguez said. “We pretty much don’t do much with him. He’s sound, he’s whole, he’s game.”

 Breaking from post 6 under Cornelio Velasquez, Head Heart Hoof stalked P.J.’s Magical Wink through an opening quarter in 22.95 seconds. He put a head in front of P J.s Magical Wink at the quarter pole, opened up a two-length advantage at the eighth pole, and withstood a late rally from Johannesburg Smile, making his first start since being claimed for $100,000 by Mike Repole last out.

 Head Heart Hoof covered six furlongs in 1:09.86 and returned $6.10 as the 2-1 second choice.

 “I think we got the jump on the horse that finished second. I think that’s what got us to the wire,” Rodriguez said.

 When Dubb initially claimed the horse last February, he gave him to Tony Dutrow. After a good second in the Hollie Hughes Stakes for statebreds, Head Heart Hoof went off form. Dubb felt the horse needed to say in New York for the fall and winter and transferred him to Rodriguez.

“He’s an Aqueduct horse, let’s get him home to Aqueduct,” Dubb said. “I sent him to Rudy, and he’s getting better all the time. I’m just thrilled with him.”

 Dubb said Head Heart Hoof could run next in the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap here on March 2.