01/16/2017 4:21PM

Green Gratto by a head in Toboggan Stakes

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Green Gratto, ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, wins the Grade 3 Toboggan on Monday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Jockey Kendrick Carmouche suggested that the connections of Green Gratto alter the blinkers the 7-year-old gelding wears in his races. Considering the narrow margin by which Green Gratto won Monday’s Grade 3, $125,000 Toboggan Stakes at Aqueduct, it was a prudent piece of advice.

Green Gratto turned back a pace challenge from Story to Tell, then dug in and held off a late rally from All Star Red to win the Toboggan by a head. All Star Red finished second by a neck over Stallwalkin’ Dude, the 4-5 favorite.  It was three-quarters of a length back to Life in Shambles, who was followed by Story to Tell and Classy Class in a race where the six-horse field was separated by 1 1/4 lengths at the wire.

Carmouche noted that in the Dec. 18 Gravesend here, when Green Gratto was second to Stallwalkin’ Dude, he couldn’t see that horse coming, in part due to the full-cup blinker Green Gratto wore. Trainer Gaston Grant changed the blinkers to a thin cup, known as “cheaters,” and Carmouche believes they made a difference.

“He always breaks and goes, but he always gets beat short distances because he can’t see the horses coming,” said Carmouche, who won his third stakes race in four days. “We figure if we put the cheaters on, he at least sees them coming, he would maintain his course, and that’s pretty much what he did today; he just maintained.”

Breaking from the rail on an inside-speed-favoring track, Green Gratto broke on top. Though the speedy The Great War scratched, Story to Tell, ridden by Angel Arroyo, put the pressure on Green Gratto through a quarter in 22.60 seconds and a half-mile in 45.34.

Green Gratto was able to get away from Story to Tell at the sixteenth pole and held off All Star Red by a head at the wire. Green Gratto covered the six furlongs in 1:10.74 and returned $7.30 as the second choice.

The win was the eighth in 51 starts for Green Gratto, a New Jersey-bred son of Here’s Zealous. It was his second Grade 3 victory, following the Fall Highweight in November 2015. Grant said he’d like to point Green Gratto to the Grade 1 Carter on April 8. Green Gratto was second in the 2015 Carter at odds of 53-1.

Where he starts in between will be up to Green Gratto.

“Every time I say I’m giving him a break, he just wants to kill everybody in the barn,” Grant said. “We’ll just have to keep running him.”

Stallwalkin’ Dude steadied entering the far turn, and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. felt it compromised his chances.

“I was between two horses, and the inside horse come out, and I got bumped and didn’t make the turn so good,” Ortiz said. “It cost me.”