Hey Leroy headed to bigger and better things

Mar 16th, 2014 | By TrackSide View | Category: Race Preview

(Edited Gulfstream Park report)

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Snapping a runner-up streak that had reached four races, Hey Leroy is headed for tougher competition in his next start.

The gelded 4-year-old son of Grade 1 winner Any Given Saturday gradually wore down pacesetting Thor’s Mjolnor through the stretch before prevailing late in an 8½-furlong optional claiming allowance on Saturday.

It was the seventh start at the Championship meet for Hey Leroy, who is trained by 85-year-old Manny Azpurua on behalf of owner Ron Sanchez’s Rontos Racing Stable Corp.

“Manny is an old-time trainer. The horse can keep running because he doesn’t put much into the workouts,” Sanchez said. “He saves the horses for the races. He wants to put the horses in the races, and it is working out.”

Fourth on Dec. 19 to cap his 3-year-old campaign, Hey Leroy won his seasonal opener on Jan. 2 and then ran second in four straight races, beaten a total of 12½ lengths. He now has three wins and four seconds in eight lifetime starts at Gulfstream.

“After four seconds, he had to win,” Azpurua said. “He’s a nice horse. He’s doing super, and I believe he is going to be okay. We’ll see what happens next time.”

Sanchez has big plans for Hey Leroy, who was claimed for $20,000 off a fourth-place finish at Saratoga Race Course last summer. He has made 11 starts for his new connections, all at Gulfstream, and banked $79,608.

“We claimed him in Saratoga. We saw something there, and he’s improving,” Sanchez said. “Now, we are going to a stake because this horse can close. At this level he’s a stalker, but he closes hard. We are going to try because when you see his numbers he is always improving. This was a big win for us. We were expecting to win the last one, so we’re going to move forward.”

Sanchez said a decision is expected by mid-week regarding the sale of 3-year-old sensation Social Inclusion, who cruised to a 10-length allowance victory over well-regarded Honor Code at Gulfstream on March 12.

“We will make a decision by Wednesday,” said Sanchez, who has entertained several multi-million dollar offers for the Pioneerof the Nile colt he bought for $60,000 as a yearling. “My conditions are I want to keep a piece of the horse and have Manny keep training. We are going to keep 25 percent. We have so much respect for Manny and the job he has done for me. We have to make a deal and if it is not possible, we will compensate him.”

Azpurua said Social Inclusion will return to the track for the first time since the race on Monday. The $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream on March 29 remains a possibility.

“He came back in good shape,” he said. “He’s doing great and eating well and he’s sound, that’s the main thing. I want to go easy with him. He’s a very good horse. He’s intelligent, he’s smart, he knows what he’s doing. I don’t want to push him.”

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