08/10/2016 6:34PM

Turco Bravo wins Birdstone Stakes as favorite

Barbara D. Livingston
Turco Bravo and jockey Javier Castellano win the Birdstone Stakes by a length Wednesday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Turco Bravo improved on his second-place finish in last year’s Birdstone by persevering past a stubborn Desvelo to win this year’s $100,000 Birdstone Stakes by a length at sloppy Saratoga.

Kept within a length of Desvelo throughout most of the 1 3/4-mile journey by jockey Javier Castellano, Turco Bravo looked like he was going to cruise on by turning for home. But once he made the lead, Turco Bravo got to wandering a little before Castellano guided him back toward Desvelo to revive his competitive juices.

“He needs some company; when he gets by himself on the lead, he starts looking around, and when I went past that horse, he was just completely lost,” Castellano said. “He was looking for some target; that’s the reason I went back to him get him motivated.”

Once reengaged, Turco Bravo did edge clear of Desvelo, whose jockey, Manny Franco, dropped his whip inside the last sixteenth. Desvelo finished second by 8 1/4 lengths over Old Time Hockey. He was followed by Indycott, Kid Cruz, and Lideris.

Turco Bravo, a 7-year-old Chilean-bred gelding by Caesarion, covered the 1 3/4 miles in 3:01.17 and returned $4.20 as the favorite.

Turco Bravo, owned by Winning Move Stable and trained by Gary Contessa, won for the third time in eight starts this year. He is 14 for 53 overall.

“I liked that Castellano had horse at every point in the race,” said Contessa, who also trained third-place finisher Old Time Hockey. “I was feeling confident at every point in the race, but the horse that ran second really ran hard. You got to tip your hat to him, too.”

Contessa said he may look at the Grade 2, $200,000 Greenwood Cup at Parx on Sept.  5 for Turco Bravo, though the timing could be too quick back.