05/19/2008 12:00AM

Two Step Salsa cruises to first stakes victory


Two Step Salsa won his first stakes in Sunday's $107,200 Laz Barrera Stakes at Hollywood Park in relatively easy fashion, setting a modest pace and pulling away through the stretch.

Breaking from the rail in a field of six 3-year-olds, Two Step Salsa led through early fractions of 22.60 and 44.66 seconds under jockey Martin Pedroza. Two Step Salsa led by a half-length on the turn and won by three over Afleet Ruler.

Pedroza said that Two Step Salsa collided with Rapidity, who broke from post 2, leaving the gate, but that Two Step Salsa recovered quickly.

"Once I got the front, he was just galloping, just cruising," he said.

Dixie Chatter, making his first start since winning the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes last September, finished third. Salute the Sarge, the 2-1 favorite, finished fifth.

Two Step Salsa ($8) ran seven furlongs in 1:20.66. Owned by Everest Stable and trained by Julio Canani, Two Step Salsa has won 3 of 4 starts and $139,730. A Petionville colt bred by Everest, Two Step Salsa won his first two starts before finishing second in the Harry Henson Stakes on turf on April 25.