Aaron Gryder and Hoist played a game of catch me if you can Sunday at Emerald Downs in the Governor's Handicap. They couldn't. Hoist blazed to an...

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AUBURN — Aaron Gryder and Hoist played a game of catch me if you can Sunday at Emerald Downs in the Governor’s Handicap.

They couldn’t.

Hoist blazed to an early lead, putting away those who tried to stay with him early, then held off the closers to win by 1 length over 40-1 shot Stryker PHD in the $50,000 race, the first stakes of the season for older colts and geldings.

“I knew that my horse was extremely quick, so they were going to have to really push to outrun him early,” said Gryder, who has been successful at several top tracks but earned his first win at Emerald. “They didn’t want to push. … By the time we got to the turn, he was going quickly enough that we could just open it up.”

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Hoist, a 4-year-old gelding making his second start at Emerald, ran an extremely fast second quarter-mile in the 6 ½-furlong race. Among those who tired badly from chasing him was Winning Machine, the top older horse last season at Emerald who was the 3-2 favorite and finished last.

Hoist built a 4-length lead in the stretch, but Stryker PHD and Why Not Be Perfect were making up ground quickly at the end.

“I didn’t hear any other horses coming, I just heard (trainer) Mike Puhich yelling,” Gryder said.

The winner’s time was 1 minute, 14.78 seconds and he paid $8.40 as the second choice in the wagering.

Hoist is based at Hastings in Vancouver, B.C., and Puhich gave the credit to Troy Taylor, who trains the horse in Canada. Hoist is owned by the North American Thoroughbred company, who owned last year’s Longacres Mile winner, Taylor Said.

The stakes races get longer in this division leading to the Mile in August, starting with the 1-mile Budweiser Handicap on June 16. Stryker PHD’s jockey Debbie Hoonan looks forward to that.

“I can’t wait to go a route,” she said. “I started to ask him at the three-eighths pole and he just started flying. I thought we were going to win it, I really did.”

Track reports contributed