12/17/2016 3:26PM

Bavaro runs like an All-Pro in Great White Way

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Annette Jasko/NYRA photo
Bavaro and jockey Manny Franco win the Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells wanted to name a horse in honor of his All-Pro tight end Mark Bavaro. He told trainer Gary Sciacca to choose the toughest horse he trained for Parcells.

Sciacca might have chosen the fastest one as well.

Bavaro, a son of Freud, flashed strong speed out of the gate, then turned back a quarter-pole challenge from heavily favored Gold for the King to romp home a 3 3/4-length winner in Saturday’s $150,000 Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Aqueduct. Gold for the King, who raced four wide down the backstretch, had to settle for second, 8 1/4 lengths ahead of Remstin. Eddie’s Gift, Ethan Hunt, and Three to Thirteen completed the order of finish.

The win was the second in as many starts for Bavaro, whom Sciacca purchased for $85,000 at the New York-bred yearling sale at Saratoga in August 2015.

“He’s a bull, just like Bavaro,” Sciacca said.

The human Bavaro played for the New York Giants from 1985-90 and was part of two Super Bowl-winning teams coached by Parcells. Bavaro was known for the way he’d barrel over defenders after a reception.

The equine Bavaro seems more fleet of foot as he jumped out of the gate under Manny Franco and opened up a one-length lead after running a quarter in 23.14 seconds and a half-mile in 46.59 seconds over a “good” and seemingly deep inner track.

At the quarter pole, Gold for the King, under Jose Ortiz, made a bid to get just off the flank of Bavaro. But turning for home, Franco flashed his whip at Bavaro, and the gray colt opened up again and came home an easy winner.

Bavaro covered six furlongs in 1:11.16 and returned $9.90 as the 7-2 second choice.

“As soon as I saw the blue blinkers, I knew it was Jose,” said Franco. “I showed him the whip, and he just broke.”

Sciacca said he expected Bavaro to be in front early but, “I didn’t know he’d be that easy in front.”

Sciacca said that Bavaro, the retired NFL player, lives in Boxborough, Mass., and that his uncle is a big racing fan.

“They’re at the house going nuts,” said Sciacca, who had spoken with Parcells, who was in Florida.

Sciacca said he would likely keep Bavaro sprinting for the time being. If so, the $100,000 Rego Park Stakes for 3-year-old New York-bred sprinters on Jan. 21 could be his next race.