03/07/2015 3:49PM

Salutos Amigos wins fourth straight in Tom Fool

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Tom Keyser
Salutos Amigos and jockey Cornelio Velasquez win the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap by four lengths Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Salutos Amigos may have earned himself a trip to Dubai after galloping to a visually impressive four-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct.

Sure, Salutos Amigos was beating the same type of overmatched opponents he’s been facing all winter, but he did it in authoritative fashion, running six furlongs in a very strong 1:09.61 over a muddy inner track while carrying the top weight of 125 pounds after missing significant training time.

“With all the training he had missed and to run the way he did … just a spectacular performance,” said David Jacobson, the trainer and part-owner of Salutos Amigos. “I mean, he’s a special horse.”

Dads Caps, who dueled early with Green Gratto, finished second by 2 3/4 lengths over Green Gratto.

It was the ninth win from 27 career starts for Salutos Amigos, a 5-year-old gelding by Salute the Sarge. It was his fourth consecutive stakes victory and his fifth win in his last six starts. Starting last October, Salutos Amigos has won the Grade 3 Bold Ruler, Grade 3 Fall Highweight, Gravesend, and Grade 3 Toboggan. His only loss was a three-length defeat when seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Now, Jacobson and his partner, Mike Moreno, must decide whether to go to Dubai for the $2 million Golden Shaheen on March 28.

“I will really take it a lot more serious now,” Jacobson said of Dubai. “I really was concentrating on this race.”

Jacobson thought enough of Dubai to send six bags of grain and six bags of sweet feed there Friday, the deadline for U.S.-based horsemen to do so if they want to use their own feed.

Salutos Amigos fell into a dream stalking trip under Cornelio Velasquez as Green Gratto and Dads Caps dueled through a half-mile in 46.23 seconds.

Velasquez said his horse broke so sharp that, “If I let him go, he could have gone wire to wire.”

Salutos Amigos, who returned $3.20 as the 3-5 favorite, did have a significant amount of blood emanating from his right hind hoof in the winner’s circle. Jacobson said the same situation existed after the gelding’s victory in the Toboggan.

“The vet will be waiting for him back at the barn to make sure he’s okay; I’m almost positive that he is,” Jacobson said.

Russell wins 1,000th in Cat Cay Stakes

In the race before the Tom Fool, jockey Sheldon Russell guided Shayjolie to a three-quarter-length victory over Holiday’s Jewel in the $100,000 Cat Cay Stakes.

It was the 1,000th career win for the 27-year-old Russell, born in Louisiana, raised in England, but among the leading riders the last few years in Maryland. Russell won his first race July 17, 2007.

For Shayjolie, it was her first stakes victory in seven tries.

Shayjolie, a daughter of Indian Charlie owned by Sean Shay and trained by Gary Contessa, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:47.19 and returned $6.90 as the third choice in the six-horse field.