04/08/2017 7:49PM

Green Gratto connects at 54-1 in Carter

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Barbara D. Livingston
Green Gratto (right), under Chris DeCarlo, holds off Unified by a neck to score a huge upset in the Grade 1 Carter.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Green Gratto is a fighter. So is Gaston Grant, who trains a small stable and moonlights as a UPS driver. On Saturday at Aqueduct, they each won their first Grade 1 stakes in the Carter, a seven-furlong race with a $400,000 purse.

Green Gratto, the longest shot in the nine-horse field at 54-1, paid $110 to win. In 2015, he finished second in the Carter at 53-1. Last year, he finished eighth at 13-1.

Grant works hard, and so does Green Gratto. A 7-year-old, he started 13 times last year, 16 times in 2015, and 15 times in 2014. He is now 9 for 53 in his career with earnings of more than $1.1 million.

"He's such a good horse," Grant said. "He's been working like a freight train."

Green Gratto is fast. He went to the lead in the Carter and was briefly pressed by the 4-5 favorite Unified, who soon took back into a tracking position.

Green Gratto carved out fractions of 22.56 and 45.64 seconds. When Unified attempted to come after him, he found the going difficult.

Tommy Macho, the 5-2 second choice, raced in fifth position early but began to advance on the far turn. He stayed to the inside in upper stretch and then attempted to angle out and split Green Gratto and Unified, but he bumped with Unified's hind end in doing so and couldn't get through.

Green Gratto held a 1 1/2-length lead entering the final furlong and ultimately lasted by a neck over Unified. Tommy Macho finished third, 1 1/4 lengths farther back.

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The stewards conducted an inquiry into the bumping incident in the stretch but allowed the original order of finish to stand. Green Gratto was timed in 1:23.25.

Green Gratto was given a well-judged ride by Chris DeCarlo, who scored his second Grade 1 win. He won the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Wise Times in 1986, his second year of riding.

"He broke running and was very comfortable for me," DeCarlo said of Green Gratto. "I thought they'd come after me earlier than they did. I was able to give him a little breather. When that horse did come to him, he wouldn't let him by."

Part of the reason Green Gratto was such a big price was because he had tired to finish seventh in the Grade 3 Tom Fool at Aqueduct on March 11.

"He actually bled in that race," Grant said. "We knew something was wrong and we scoped him when we got him back to the barn.”