12/18/2016 5:06PM

Stallwalkin' Dude responds to change in tactics in Gravesend

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Irad Ortiz Jr. waited as long as possible before asking Stallwalkin' Dude to launch his winning move in the Gravesend.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Stallwalkin’ Dude had surrendered leads in midstretch of two of his last three races so his connections wanted to try something a little different in Sunday’s $100,000 Gravesend Stakes.

Instead of allowing Stallwalkin’ Dude to move when he wanted to go, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. made sure to wait a bit longer. The strategy worked as Stallwalkin’ Dude, despite breaking sharply, didn’t make the lead until inside the eighth pole and he drew clear to a two-length victory in the Gravesend at Aqueduct.

Green Gratto, last year’s Gravesend winner, set the pace Sunday and held second by a neck over All Star Red. Life in Shambles finished fourth, and was followed, in order, by Drama King, Summer Revolution, Loki’s Vengeance, and Spring to the Sky.

The win was the 17th from 47 starts for Stallwalkin’ Dude, a 6-year-old gelding by City Place trained by David Jacobson for an ownership group that includes Jacobson and Head of Plains Partners. The win also made up for a disappointing neck loss in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight, a race in which Stallwalkin’ Dude made the lead but appeared to loaf a little bit.

“We tried to run him a little more off the pace today,” Ortiz said. “I felt like last time I had a lot of horse and he made the lead and started looking around and playing. We tried to have him give me everything he had at the end.”

Stallwalkin’ Dude actually broke on top, but Ortiz quickly reined him in and settled him into mid-pack while Green Gratto ran a quarter-mile in 23.29 seconds and a half-mile in 47.27.

Ortiz guided Stallwalkin’ Dude toward the outside approaching the quarter pole and then he guided him back to the inside and Stallwalkin’ Dude continued running past the leaders and to the wire.

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“He didn’t look around today,” Ortiz said.

Stallwalkin’ Dude covered the six furlongs in 1:11.80 in the mud and returned $4.10 as the even-money favorite.

Jacobson said it was Ortiz who came to him with the way he wanted to ride the race on Sunday.

“Both Irad and myself had concerns about the two races we thought we had won and he started hanging when he got to the lead,” Jacobson said. “Today we had a plan - more Irad’s idea than mine - let’s just wait and wait and wait as long as we can.”

Jacobson said he would let Stallwalkin’ Dude dictate when and where he would run next. There is the $100,000 Dave’s Friend Stakes at Laurel Park on Dec. 31 and the Grade 3, $125,000 Toboggan Stakes here on Jan. 16.

Ortiz unseated; misses last mount

One race after the Gravesend, Irad Ortiz Jr. was unseated when his mount, He’s Cheeky, stumbled at the start of the ninth race. Ortiz was quickly placed on a backboard and put into an ambulance so that the two-turn race could be completed.

Ortiz was taken to First Aid, where he was complaining of pain to his right thigh. He was taken off his final mount on the card, Frosty Margarita.

Ortiz is scheduled to be the best man at his brother Jose’s wedding on Tuesday in Ocala, Fla.

* No one hit the pick six Sunday so there will be a carryover of $30,987 when racing resumes here on Dec. 29.