Tocayo turned in a front-running tour de force on Saturday, Jan. 6, winning the $125,000 Dania Beach Stakes for 3-year-olds over Gulfstream Park's turf course by 1 1/2 lengths, becoming the first Maryland-bred stakes winner of 2024 in the process.

Tocayo made his stakes debut in his prior start, the seven and a half-furlong Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream on Dec. 9. That day, he pressed the pace through early fractions of :22.90 and :45.91 and was in contention late before giving way and finishing eighth, beaten four lengths. Undeterred, he pressed on to the one-mile Dania Beach and became the lone speed on paper after some scratches. He was sent off at nearly 14-1 in the six-horse field.

Sensing the situation, Jorge Ruiz got Tocayo to the rail and the lead from post three, opening up a clear advantage as they rounded the first turn. He got away with a first quarter in :25.32 and an opening half in :50.08, receiving only moderate pressure on his outside from Frontline Warrior. 

As they rounded the final turn, Ruiz rode confidently and Tocayo maintained a comfortable advantage. The closers, including 1-2 favorite Agate Road, made their moves, but Tocayo had more to give and spurted away from them. He covered the distance over a firm grass course in 1:36.77, with Agate Road second.

Tocayo is the third Maryland-bred winner of the Dania Beach, following Mystic Love (2012) and Field Pass (2020), both state-bred champions.

The victory improved Tocayo’s career record to 3-3-2 from 11 starts, with earnings of $176,465. After running at Laurel, Pimlico and Timonium, he broke his maiden at seventh asking at Laurel on Oct. 12 in a $20,000 maiden claiming race, winning by 1 1/4 lengths as the favorite. His next two starts were his first on turf, both at Laurel. He missed by a neck when second while in for a $62,500 tag on Oct. 28, and wasn’t risked again when sent out in a first-level allowance on Nov. 16. He led every step and scored by a length. 

Tocayo is a homebred for Lugamo Racing Stable LLC and trained by Rudy Sanchez-Salomon. The son of Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is out of the Ghostzapper mare Spooky Tooth, who won once in eight starts and earned $22,600. Tocayo’s third dam, the unraced Admiringly (Maria’s Mon), is a half-sister to 2003 Breeders’ Cup Distaff-G1 champion Adoration.

Spooky Tooth has produced two winners from as many foals of racing age. Her first foal, California Ghost (California Chrome), has won once in 13 starts. Her most recent reported foal is an unnamed 2-year-old colt by Classic Empire. 

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