05/28/2016 4:47PM

Chublicious pleasantly surprises new connections in John Reilly Handicap

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Chublicious, privately purchased in April, wins the John Reilly Handicap for New Jersey-breds under Antonio Gallardo.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Jorge Navarro and owner David Gruskos thought Chublicious might be a work or two away from his best coming into the John J. Reilly Handicap at Monmouth Park on Saturday, but it turned out Chublicious was plenty fit for the $60,000 race.

Gruskos purchased Chublicious privately from owner-breeder-trainer Danny Lopez and turned him over in April to Navarro, the leading trainer at Monmouth the past three years.

"I thought he might be a work away," Navarro said. "Danny Lopez did a nice job with this horse."

Jockey Antonio Gallardo took back off a fast pace in the Reilly, a six-furlong sprint for New Jersey-breds, as Visionary Ruler - also owned by Gruskos and trained by Navarro - battled on the front end with 4-5 favorite Green Gratto. When Green Gratto got the best of Visionary Ruler on the stretch turn, Gallardo made a bold move inside of Green Gratto and drew off to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Chublicious paid $8 to win as the second choice in the six-horse field. He was timed in 1:09.28, following blistering fractions of 21.77 and 44.44 seconds.

Green Gratto was clearly second-best while finishing 8 3/4 lengths in front of third-place Fuzzy Muzzle. Visionary Ruler finished fourth, 2 3/4 lengths farther back.

Chublicious is a 5-year-old son of Hey Chub, whom Lopez stands at Joe-Dan Farm in New Jersey. Chublicious is now 6 for 13 in his career. The win put him over $200,000 in earnings. Navarro and Gruskos said they did not have a next race scheduled for Chublicious.

Gruskos, a resident of Oceanport, owns five horses who he has stabled with Navarro and Wesley Ward. He began working with horses at the track as a teenager before moving on to the automotive tools and equipment business.