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'Gators' up to Laurel challenge

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Gators N Bears won the $75,000 Hoover Stakes at Laurel Park yesterday, but not without a fight. The 4-year-old colt was challenged by the Michael Gill-entry of Native Heir and My Good Trick before prevailing by a half length.

Native Heir was first away from the gate in the six-furlong test but was quickly pressured by Rick Wilson and Gators N Bears, owned and trained by Leo Nechamkin. After the 3-5 favorite passed and dispensed with Native Heir, My Good Trick launched his late attack. Gators N Bears and Wilson held him off, and Sassy Hound finished third.

The winner paid $3.40 and completed the distance in 1 minute, 10 seconds. The win was his fourth added-money score since early July. The colt also finished third in the Grade I De Francis Dash in November.

"I wasn't going to let Native Heir get out there by himself, so I put some pressure on him early but he stopped a lot quicker than I thought he would," Wilson said. "We know he waits when he gets in front that easily, but he held on nicely."

Said Nechamkin: "Once he makes the lead early, he gets a little lazy."

Next up for the son of Stormy Atlantic is the $200,000 Grade II General George on Presidents Day weekend.

"We are hoping for a little speed in the General George," Nechamkin said. "Then, hopefully, he can lay off of somebody and go to the lead a little later in the stretch."

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