HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Heart Stealer was entered to run in two stakes races Saturday at two tracks. Each stakes had something to offer the 3-year-old filly, but the $100,000 Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park had something trainer Marty Wolfson and the Peachtree Stable couldn’t pass up – a graded-stakes status.
Although the 6 ½-furlong distance of the other (ungraded) stakes would have better suited the long-striding filly, the value of a graded-stakes victory for a well-bred filly was worth the risk of running the Kentucky-bred filly in the six-furlong Sugar Swirl.
“She would have won over there, but I wanted to get the graded race here,” Wolfson said.
The risk was definitely worth the reward, as Heart Stealer became a graded-stakes winner with a late-running narrow victory in the 34th running of the stakes for fillies and mares, greatly enhancing her value as a broodmare prospect.
Heart Stealer, the even-money favorite in a field of six, needed just about every inch of the six furlongs after settling in fifth behind front-running R Free Roll, who had beaten the Wolfson-trained filly by a length in a recent six-furlong stakes.
“I was very concerned. She was back in fifth. It takes her a little while. Seven eighths is perfect for her, so (the six-furlong distance) was my concern,” Wolfson said. “But she’d been training well.”
Ridden by Javier Castellano, Heart Stealer had advanced to third leaving the backstretch and was sent after R Free Roll and stalking Munnings Sister. The pacesetter dug in tenaciously along the rail through the stretch, but fell just short of holding off Heart Stealer, who prevailed by a neck.
“She tried to run with that filly last time. She doesn’t need to do that. When she came to me, she was very rank. Now you can take her back,” Wolfson said. “At the eighth-pole, I didn’t know if she would get there, but once she leveled out the last 20 yards, I thought she’d get up. But it’s a little too short for her.”
R Free Roll, ridden by Paco Lopez, finished second, a neck ahead of Munnings Sister and jockey Luis Saez. Heart Stealer ran six furlongs in 1:09.49
“It was a beautiful race. There was a lot of speed in the race. We discussed it before the race and we had a plan. We thought there was a lot of speed in the race, and she doesn’t have to be on the lead. The way the race unfolds is going to help us,” Castellano said. “Marty gave the green light and gave me the confidence to ride the horse off the pace a little bit, and it paid off. I know it was kind of close, but when I asked her she responded so well in the last part.”
Heart Stealer, who had won her first race for Wolfson by 10 ½ lengths in a 6 ½-furlong allowance at Gulfstream on Oct. 6, earned $60,000 for her third win in 10 starts. However, the most valuable prize was the graded-stakes victory added to her resume.
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