02/07/2015 2:52PM

Salutos Amigos runs down Dads Caps in Toboggan

Debbie Roma
Salutos Amigos finishes strongly under Irad Ortiz Jr. to win the Toboggan on Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - In the paddock Saturday prior to the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan Stakes, David Jacobson, the trainer and part-owner of odds-on favorite Salutos Amigos, was concerned.

“I’m afraid of Rudy’s horse,” said Jacobson, alluding to the Rudy Rodriguez-trained Grade 1 winner Dads Caps, who loomed the lone speed in the race.

For the first half-mile of the six-furlong Toboggan, Jacobson’s fears were being realized as Dads Caps, equipped with blinkers for the first time, was loose on the lead.

With a quarter-mile left to run, Salutos Amigos was next to last, 6 1/2 lengths behind.

But when Irad Ortiz Jr. smacked Salutos Amigos with his right-handed stick, the 5-year-old gelding picked it up, and the more Ortiz whipped, the more Salutos Amigos responded, and he blew past Dads Caps in the final 70 yards to gain a 1 3/4-length victory.

Dads Caps, winner of the Grade 1 Carter last April, finished second, 7 12 lengths in front of 42-1 shot Crafty Dreamer, who won a three-way photo for third over Doubledown Again and Mewannarose. Green Gratto scratched.

It was the third straight stakes victory for Salutos Amigos and his eighth win from 26 starts. It was his third graded stakes success since last Oct. 25 when he won the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont. He also won the Grade 3 Fall Highweight in November and the listed Gravesend in December.

“This is a very impressive race,” Jacobson said. “Dads Caps looked great in the paddock, Rudy is doing a great job, especially lately. He’s hot. That was a tough horse to beat and run down, and we did. Irad said he hit him once or twice and he just took off.”

Ortiz said that each time he hit Salutos Amigos the gelding responded, which gave Ortiz confidence that he could catch Dads Caps, who was ridden by his brother Jose Ortiz.

“I saw the jockey just waiting," Irad Ortiz said of his brother. "I said, ‘Maybe I’m not going to catch him.’ As soon as I hit him one time I know I got a chance. I kept hitting, hitting and hitting, and he came flying.”

Salutos Amigos, a gelding by Salute the Sarge, covered the six furlongs in 1:09.53 and returned $3.50 to win.

Jacobson said Salutos Amigos had a cut on a hind leg, but if that turns out to be superficial he plans to run him back in the Grade 3, $250,000 General George at Laurel on Feb. 16. Jacobson said that the Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 28 at Meydan also remains a possibility.

Vincent Scuderi, the owner of Dads Caps, said he would be very happy to see Salutos Amigos go to Dubai.

“Let him go to Dubai, we’ll go to the Carter,” said Scuderi, referring to the Grade 1 race on April 4 that Dads Caps won last year.