09/28/2013 4:02PM

Kelso: Graydar wins his prep for Breeders' Cup

Barbara D. Livingston
Graydar, ridden by Edgar Prado, beats Brujo de Olleros in the Kelso on Saturday. He could go in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile or the Classic.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Graydar returned from a six-month layoff with a solid effort, winning Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso Invitational at Belmont Park. Now, his connections must decide whether it was good enough to take a shot at the Breeders’ Cup Classic next month at Santa Anita.

In his first start since winning the New Orleans Handicap in March, Graydar gutted out a front-running three-quarter-length victory over Brujo de Olleros in Saturday’s Kelso, earning an automatic berth into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.

But his connections went into the Kelso thinking they could use the race as a stepping-stone to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2. That race, however, is at 1 1/4 miles.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

“Even though they came to him, they never really got by him,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Graydar for Twin Creeks Racing Stables. “He’s still in front an eighth after the finish line and galloped out a pretty decent mile and a quarter. I think conditioning-wise that we got enough that if he trains accordingly we might be able to do it.”

Jockey Edgar Prado, aboard Graydar, seemed to prefer the Dirt Mile.

“I think the [Dirt] Mile would be perfect for him,” Prado said. “We’ll see what Todd thinks after this.”

Graydar, a son of Unbridled’s Song who also won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at 1 1/8 miles this year, was off for six months after surgery to remove ankle chips.

Saturday, after breaking a tad slowly, Graydar was able to secure the early lead through a quarter in 23.41 seconds and a half-mile in 47.11.

Graydar maintained a length advantage leaving the quarter pole, and turning into the stretch Brujo de Olleros, under Alan Garcia, came three wide and was charging at him. Despite drifting out slightly, Graydar was able to hold of Brujo de Olleros. Graydar, a 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song who is now 5 for 6 lifetime, covered the mile in 1:34.08 and returned $3.80 as the 4-5 favorite.

“He didn’t break super sharp, but Edgar was able to get to the position we wanted to be in and the fractions were reasonable,” Pletcher said. “He was able to hold off some challenges. It was good.”

Rick Mettee, the trainer of Brujo de Olleros, was hoping for a faster pace but did not offer any real excuse for the defeat.

“I think we have to be really happy with the result,” Mettee said. “He was trying to close into a pace that wasn’t all that fast, but the best horse won and today we were second best."