03/29/2014 5:00PM

Gulfstream Park: Entry-box audible pays off for Hey Leroy in Appleton

Barbara D. Livingston
Hey Leroy rallies to victory outside horses in the Appleton Stakes.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The connections of Hey Leroy weren’t originally pointing their 4-year-old gelding to Saturday’s Grade 3 Appleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park. But at Wednesday’s draw for Saturday’s 14-race card, P.J. Campo, vice president of racing at Gulfstream Park, told owner Ron Sanchez that the race only was coming up an eight-horse field and would he want to enter and take a look.

Sanchez and trainer Manny Azpurua entered, took a look and liked what they saw enough to run. They certainly liked what they saw at the end of the race as Hey Leroy, under Alex Solis, ran down Mr. Online to win the $100,000 Appleton by a neck. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Salto in third.

“I called Manny and said they only have eight horses, we know he can close let’s put him in and it paid off,” said Sanchez, who races under Rontos Racing.

Azpurua and Sanchez are the same connections that have Social Inclusion, the exciting 3-year-old prospect who is scheduled to race in next Saturday’s Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

Hey Leroy, making his seventh start of 2014, was last early under Alex Solis while Midnight Cello and Mr. Online dueled through a half in 46.69. Mr. Online kept on cruising on the lead and had a 2 1/2-length lead after running seven furlongs in 1:20.48.

But Solis kept on persevering on Hey Leroy and they got there in the shadow of the wire to get the victory. Hey Leroy, a gelding by Any Given Saturday, covered the mile in 1:32.49 and returned $25.60 to win.

“I see a lot of guys sending to the lead and I just took a hold of him and take back and drop down to the rail and save some ground,” Solis said. “When I got to the backside I started getting a forward position. From the three-eighths pole I got him going and at the quarter pole I said ‘I have a good chance,’ he was trying hard. Down the stretch he gave me even more.”

Hey Leroy, claimed for $20,000 last summer at Saratoga, is now 5 for 22 lifetime, and has a record of 3-4-0 from seven starts this year.

“I love a horse that can make that kind of run at the end of the race,” Azpurua said.