Updated on 09/17/2011 11:11AM

Hero's Tribute finally gets one

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Bill Denver/EQUIPHOTO
Hero's Tribute ($5.60) coasts home four lengths to the good in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Hero's Tribute ended a series of losses against graded stakes company with a four-length victory over 50-1 shot Aeneas and six other rivals in Saturday's $300,000 .

Hero's Tribute finished a wide-running third behind Lido Palace to close out his 2002 campaign in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill, ran a troubled fourth to open the year in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Handicap at Gulfstream, and finished second behind Harlan's Holiday in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap in his most recent start.

But with Harlan's Holiday in Dubai on Saturday - he finished second in the Dubai World Cup - Hero's Tribute became the favorite and horse to beat in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap. He made the most of the opportunity.

Hero's Tribute stalked the early pace of Generous Rosi before taking a short advantage approaching the quarter pole. He repulsed a strong challenge from Aeneas entering the stretch then drew off with complete authority in the final furlong.

Aeneas, making his stakes debut, rallied four wide to join Hero's Tribute for command leaving the final turn. He finished a length clear of third-place finisher Puzzlement, who gained striking position after the opening mile of the 1 1/4-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap but could not sustain his bid through the stretch.

Hero's Tribute, a son of Sea Hero, was ridden to victory by Edgar Prado. He paid $5.60 after covering the distance in 2:04.24 over a fast track.

"You never know if they want to go a mile and a quarter or not," said Donna Ward, wife of John Ward Jr., who trains Hero's Tribute for owner John Oxley.

"I was just afraid I'd run him too many times. It's always hard to run three times over the Gulfstream racetrack."

Ward said she would wait to see how Hero's Tribute comes out of the race before making any future plans for the horse.

The Judge Sez Who, who was to have been the starting highweight under 117 pounds, had to be scratched from the Gulfstream Park Handicap after sustaining an injury to his right hind leg in his stall during a severe thunderstorm that struck the area Thursday evening.