03/06/2016 4:29PM

Awesome Gent scores with authority in Jimmy Winkfield

Joe Labozzetta/NYRA
Manny Franco guides the 3-year-old Awesome Gent to a four-length victory in the Jimmy Winkfield.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Sudden Surprise was the best New York-bred 2-year-old sprinter in 2015. Now, he may not even be the best New York-bred 3-year-old sprinter in his own barn.

Awesome Gent, a Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate of Sudden Surprise, galloped to a smart-looking four-length victory in Sunday’s $125,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct.

Quijote, shipping in from Fair Grounds, finished second. King Kranz, who won the Lost in the Fog Stakes on the lead, came from last to be third. He finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Condo King, who veered out breaking from the extreme outside post.

Moon Over a Beauty and 2-1 favorite Sudden Surprise completed the order of finish.

It was the third straight win for Awesome Gent, a son of Awesome Again owned by Burning Sands Stable who was gelded after finishing eighth in his debut at Saratoga.

Breaking from post 3 under Manny Franco, Awesome Gent came out of the gate alertly and stalked the pace from third as Moon Over a Beauty and Sudden Surprise ran an opening quarter-mile in 22.17 seconds.

Around the turn, Awesome Gent was eager to go and he joined the leaders at the three-furlong pole. Franco took a hold of Awesome Gent as he did not want to move on him just yet.

Awesome Gent came into the stretch still outside of the two dueling leaders before Franco let him go and Awesome Gent drew away with authority.

“Right on the turn he jumped to the lead and he wanted to go,” Franco said. “I just sat on him because I knew I had horse and I wait a little bit. When I move, he gave me a kick.”

Awesome Gent covered six furlongs in a sharp 1:10.60 and returned $9.40 as the fourth choice in the six-horse field.

Byron Hughes, assistant to Pletcher, said Awesome Gent has progressively gotten better.

“He’s gradually improved in the afternoon and the mornings,” Hughes said. “His breezes have gotten better; his races have gotten better too.”

Hughes said jockey Jose Ortiz told him Sudden Surprise had no excuse and that at the sixteenth pole the horse “was done and he didn’t want to push him too hard after that,” Hughes said.