Updated on 09/17/2011 1:23PM

Pico Central survives scorching pace in Carter

Forest Danger scores his first stakes win in the $150,000 Bay Shore at Aqueduct on Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Pico Central survived a suicidal pace battle to win Saturday's Grade 1 by 1 1/4 lengths over favored Strong Hope.

Pico Central, with Alex Solis in the saddle, and Don Six set a scorching pace in the seven-furlong Carter. Through an eye-popping opening quarter-mile in 21.77 seconds and a half-mile in 43.50, Strong Hope, under John Velazquez, was sitting in a sweet spot behind the early leaders. At the top of the stretch, Strong Hope launched his move to the outside of Pico Central. The two battled down the stretch, head to head, with Strong Hope poking his head in front, but a determined Pico Central answered back on the rail and drew away in the final sixteenth.

"He has the biggest heart," Solis said. "I had a lot of horse, and he gave me a great kick in the stretch. He's a rising star."

Velazquez said he wasn't disappointed in Strong Hope's performance. "The winner is a nice horse," he said.

Pico Central ($10.60) covered the distance over a fast track in 1:20.22, the second-fastest Carter in 104 runnings. The stakes and track record - 1:20.04 - was set by Artax in the 1999 Carter.

Strong Hope finished two lengths in front of third-place finisher Eye of the Tiger. Gygistar was fourth in the nine-horse field.

Badge of Silver was scratched Saturday morning by trainer Ronny Werner because he had heat in his right front foot.

Pico Central is trained by Paulo Lobo, who won the Grade 1 Alabama with Farda Amiga in 2002, the last time Lobo was in New York to saddle a horse. A 5-year-old son of Spend a Buck, Pico Central was bought by Gary Tanaka shortly after he won the Grade 2 San Carlos at Santa Anita in March.

Pico Central previously raced in Brazil, where he was a Group 1 winner on the turf.

"He's very strong - a fighter," Lobo said.

Lobo said he would consider the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park on May 31 for Pico Central's next race.

Pico Central was scheduled to ship back to Hollywood Park on Tuesday.

Bay Shore: Forest Danger romps

Forest Danger put in a smashing performance to win his first stakes, taking the $150,000 by 7 1/2 lengths in near stakes-record time.

Abbondanza finished second, 3 1/2 lengths in front of Indian War Dance in the Grade 3 Bay Shore.

Forest Danger, the even-money favorite under Velazquez, bounced out to the early lead in the seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds. He blazed through an opening quarter-mile in 22.39 seconds and a half-mile in 44.39. The final time was 1:20.67, which equals the second-fastest running of the Bay Shore. Limit Out, the winner in 1998, holds the record with 1:20.40.

Forest Danger returned $4.20.

It was Forest Danger's third win from as many starts. Over the winter, he won a maiden and allowance race at Gulfstream Park.

Todd Pletcher trains Forest Danger, a son of Forestry, for Aaron and Marie Jones.

"The track obviously was pretty lively, but this is a fast horse," Pletcher said. "He has impressed from day one."

Pletcher said the $150,000 Withers at Aqueduct on May 1 is a possibility for Forest Danger's next start.