06/12/2016 5:34PM

Full Salute switches to turf for Select Stakes victory

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Ryan Denver/Equi-Photo
Full Salute, with Paco Lopez aboard, scores as the favorite in the Select Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Last year at Monmouth Park as a 2-year-old, Full Salute had a win and three seconds from four starts. He's 2 for 2 at this season's meet after winning Sunday's $58,800 Select Stakes, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds.

Full Salute defeated older rivals in a third-level main-track sprint May 23. Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. switched him to the grass Sunday, but it didn't seem to make any difference to Full Salute, who turned a stalking trip into a one-length victory.

The Select is Full Salute's third stakes win. He had previously won the $145,000 Hall of Fame Stakes at Parx Racing last September and the $75,000 Buffalo Man at Gulfstream Park West in November. Full Salute now has a 10-5-3-0 record and earnings of $258,435.

Full Salute, who is owned by Morris Bailey, paid $6 as the favorite in the seven-horse Select. He covered the course in 1:03.02.

"We gave him time off in Florida during the winter," Plesa said. "It's tough there and we thought we'd give him time and point to this meet. Mr. Bailey has a house near here."

Plesa said the Grade 3, $100,000 Jersey Shore Stake, a six-furlong main track race for 3-year-olds on July 23 at Monmouth, could be next for Full Salute.

Bobcat and Formal Summation dueled on the lead in the Select as Paco Lopez positioned Full Salute a couple of lengths off the pace. Full Salute took the lead outside the front-runners in upper stretch, drew clear, and then held off the late run of Easy River.

Easy River, who was shortening up from a mile turf race at Pimlico, lagged back early, then rallied after Full Salute in the stretch in a good effort.

After early fractions of 22.68 and 45.77 seconds, the pace picked up in the Select with the final three-sixteenths going in 17.25. Full Salute covered the final sixteenth in 5.76 seconds.

Henry the King, who was making his first start since January, broke slowly and then finished with a late bid from the center of the course. He's one to keep an eye on in his next start.

Expected Ruler, the 3-1 second choice, edged up near Full Salute on the far turn, remained a factor into the stretch, but then flattened out. He was beaten a neck by Henry the King for third.