by Najja Thompson
Making his graded stakes debut after impressively breaking his maiden on September 23 at Belmont Park, Vekoma stamped himself as a juvenile to watch besting a talented field of six to win the Grade 3, $200,000 Nashua on Sunday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Breaking alertly from post 5 as the 2-1 mutuel favorite with Manny Franco aboard, Vekoma stalked comfortably from third position as Factor It In and Call Paul battled up front setting swift fractions of 22.53 seconds for the opening quarter-mile with the half in 45.29.
At the quarter-pole, Vekoma was tipped four-wide and surged to the lead at the top of the stretch. With a fast closing Network Effect in pursuit, Vekoma switched leads mid-stretch and extended away to secure the victory by 1 ¾ lengths.
Vekoma completed the mile distance in a final time of 1:36.62.
"I was trying to make him switch leads because he was on the wrong lead," said Franco. "When he switched, he ran straight. It's only his second race, so he'll learn. He's a nice horse. I like how he settled. He didn't pull me or get aggressive early on. He settled down and when I asked him, he was there for me."
Returning $6.10 for a $2 win wager, the Candy Ride colt owned by R A Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables boosted his career earnings to $151,250, while picking up his first stakes win.
After successfully stretching out to a mile in the Nashua, trainer George Weaver said he was looking to make the next step with the talented juvenile eyeing the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen on December 1 for his next start.
"The horse ran good. We expected him to run well, it was just a question of if he could get the mile distance," said Weaver. "It set up nice. Manny [Franco] gave him a good ride sitting third behind a solid pace. When it came down to it, he made the run.
"We'll look at the Remsen first," continued Weaver. "As long as there's not a solid reason not to run him, we'll enter him there."
Following Network Effect in second was Call Paul, U S Navy Cross, Factor It In and Puttheglassdown completing the order of finish.