06/15/2008 11:00PM

Two Step Salsa passes first test around two turns

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Two Step Salsa made even-money look like an overlay Sunday at Hollywood Park, scoring a powerful victory in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds that was his first start around two turns.

Ridden by Martin Pedroza, Two Step Salsa ($4) set strong fractions of 46.61 seconds and 1:11.13. then drew off by 3 1/4 lengths in a rapid 1:41.57. Only three races this meet at 1 1/16 miles have been run faster, including Grade 2's by Surf Cat and Zenyatta.

In the Affirmed, Tres Borrachos chased the front-runner throughout and held second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Dixie Chatter, the 5-2 second choice.

Julio Canani trains Two Step Salsa for Jeff Nielsen's Everest Stable. Sired by Petionville, Two Step Salsa last month won the Grade 3 Lazaro Barrera Stakes at seven furlongs, and became the first horse to win both the Barrera and Affirmed. Two Step Salsa has won 4 of 5 races and $203,990. His only loss was a runner-up finish in the six-furlong Harry Henson.