Updated on 09/17/2011 10:09AM

New York Hero shows grit

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Jason Stewart/Lang Photography
New York Hero, ridden by Norberto Arroyo Jr., holds off Eugene's Third Son by a neck to win the Lane's End Stakes before 20,126 at Turfway Park.

FLORENCE, Ky. - New York Hero, overlooked at 14-1 in his stakes debut, surprised a large Turfway Park crowd and national television audience Saturday when he held off Eugene's Third Son to win the $500,000 by a neck.

With Norberto Arroyo Jr. riding for owner Paraneck Stable and trainer Jennifer Leigh Pedersen, New York Hero returned $31.40 after finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.68 over a fast surface. Champali, the 5-2 second choice, finished third, another 2 1/4 lengths back. Lion Tamer, the 4-5 favorite in a field of nine 3-year-olds, finished another head back in fourth in a field of nine.

The victory in the Grade 2 Lane's End was the third in five career starts for New York Hero, a Maryland-bred son of Partner's Hero. Pedersen said New York Hero will be made a late Triple Crown nominee for $6,000 and probably will run next in the April 12 Wood Memorial to determine whether the colt will run in the May 3 Kentucky Derby. The Wood also is expected to attract Empire Maker, the current Derby favorite.

New York Hero is "just getting better and better," said Pedersen, who became the second female trainer to win the Lane's End, following Dianne Carpenter with Kingpost in 1988. "I just love the way he moves. He's just now figuring things out."

On a cool but delightful spring afternoon, Saintly Look led through fractions of 22.98 seconds, 46.60, and 1:11.11 with New York Hero in close pursuit. Eugene's Third Son, a 7-1 shot ridden by Pat Day, moved into prime position to challenge the leaders turning for home. As Saintly Look faded, Eugene's Third Son drew nearly abreast of New York Hero but could never get past.

"He saw that other horse coming and dug in," said Arroyo, who was riding New York Hero for the first time. "I thought if this horse got his way, he would keep on going, and he did."

Arroyo, in his third year of riding in the U.S., recently served a 39-day jail sentence stemming from a fight at a Long Island, N.Y. pool hall. The Lane's End was the richest win of his career. A Puerto Rico native, Arroyo, 26, is based in New York, as is Pedersen, who grew up in Forest Hills in Queens, N.Y..

After New York Hero drew an outside post for the Gotham Stakes last weekend at Aqueduct, Pedersen scratched him in favor of the Lane's End.

Pedersen has trained for several years for Paraneck, which is owned by Ernie Paragallo, whose best horse so far was Unbridled's Song, the 1995 2-year-old champion and 1996 Kentucky Derby favorite.

Meanwhile, the trainers of the second, third, and fourth-place finishers said they would withhold judgment on whether to continue on the Derby trail. John Velazquez, who rode Lion Tamer, said he thought his mount ran respectably after dropping back to eighth in the opening furlong.

"I thought we got into a good position, but they never came back to me," said Velazquez.

The 6-8 exacta paid $226.40 and the 6-8-2 trifecta paid $983.80.

Ontrack attendance was 20,126, fifth largest in track history.