Hilda's Passion Beats The Clock In Inside Information
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – From the top of the stretch to the finish line, Hilda’s Passion was pretty much just racing against the clock in Saturday’s $150,000 Inside Information (G2) – and the Todd Pletcher-trained 4-year-old filly won.
While drawing away to an overpowering 5-1/4-length victory in the stakes for fillies and mares, Hilda’s Passion was on her way to a Gulfstream Park track-record for seven furlongs with a blistering 1:20.45 clocking. Ridden by Javier Castellano, the daughter of Canadian Frontier bettered the 1:20.88 record set by champion sprinter Big Drama in 2009.
Hilda’s Passion ($3.20) sprinted clear right out of the starting gate under Castellano, who was successful in getting his filly to relax despite setting very swift quarter-mile fractions of :24 and :44 1/5 to the far turn. John Velazquez sent Amen Hallelujah alongside the pacesetter on the turn into the homestretch, but the 3-5 favorite quickly sprinted clear and drew away to the finish line.
“She travels so smoothly that you don’t realize how fast she’s going, but when I saw the 44 (half-mile), and Amen Hallelujah inch up to her, I thought she might have a real race on her hands until she drew away in the stretch,” Pletcher said.
Hilda’s Passion, who had previously won the Hurricane Bertie (G3) at Gulfstream on Feb. 13, earned $90,000 for Starlight Partners and C.E. Glasscock.
“I know she has a lot of speed. What I really liked about today was how she went to the lead but she was so relaxed. She was really comfortable and when I asked her, it was amazing. She just took off. I knew she was going to run fast, I didn’t know she was going to break the track record,” said Castellano, who opened a two-win margin over Velazquez in the jockeys’ standing with his third winner of the afternoon.
Amen Hallelujah finished second, 1-1/2 lengths clear of Stephanie Got Even and jockey Alex Solis.
Pletcher said Hilda’s Passion would likely race next in the Humana Distaff (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 7.
“It’s also at seven-eighths,” Pletcher said. “She’s trained well over that track in the past.”
Cal Nation Nosed by Stablemate in Allowance
Bet down to 1-5 favoritism in the third race, Cal Nation was upset by stablemate Dance City in the one-mile allowance race. The Pletcher-trained 3-year-olds crossed the finish line just a nose apart.
Cal Nation, who captured his debut with an impressive 7-3/4-length victory at Gulfstream on Feb. 5, bobbled at the start before stalking the early pace set by Dance City ($15.60). Cal Nation challenged his stablemate on the turn in to the homestretch under John Velazquez and put his head in front nearing the finish line. However, Dance City responded to urging from jockey Javier Castellano and came back to prevail by a nose.
“The idea wasn’t to run these two horses together. We entered Cal Nation in an A-other-than (allowance) for the last few Saturdays, and they didn’t go, so we ended up with this,” Pletcher said. “It was a tough choice for Johnny because he was working both horses and we liked both horses. It wasn’t a case of one being a whole lot better than the other one. I hate to run two horses like that together. We were trying not to, but that’s the way it unfolded.”
Dance City, who broke his maiden in less eye-catching fashion on Jan. 21 at Gulfstream, ran a mile in 1:36 4/5. Bowman's Causeway, the 7-2 second choice ridden by Paco Lopez, finished another 1-3/4 lengths back in third.
The immediate future of both 3-year-olds has yet to be determined, particularly as it relates to a potential Kentucky Derby prep.
“We’ll talk to the connections, but right now, due to the circumstances, both of them are arriving late on the scene,” said Pletcher, the trainer of Kentucky Derby early favorite Uncle Mo.