Honorable Dillon Grinds Out Hutcheson Win
Eddie Kenneally and Joe Rocco Jr. had a plan for Honorable Dillon, and the 3-year-old son of Tapit followed it right into the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle Saturday after winning the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G2).
“The plan was to stalk the speed and not get too far back, not get in a speed duel, and it worked out how we wanted,” said Rocco, who guided the Kenneally-trained Honorable Dillon to a half-length victory in the seven-furlong stakes.
Honorable Dillon, the 5-2 second betting choice in a field of eight 3-year-olds, stalked the early pace set by Singanothersong and pressed by Undrafted along the backstretch. When the pacesetter tired on the far turn, Undrafted moved to the lead with Honorable Dillon right over his shoulder, setting up a heated stretch duel.
Honorable Dillon edged away from Undrafted nearing the finish line and crossed the finish line just in time, as Forty Tales, the 9-5 favorite under John Velazquez, soared late to nose out Undrafted and Luis Saez for second money.
“It set up good. I thought he’d relax behind the pace. I thought there’d be some speed in the race, and there was. He relaxed beautifully and stalked on the outside and really dug in,” Kenneally said. “He was a little green and was on the wrong lead in the stretch, but he gutted it out. He’s determined. He’s a nice horse.”
Forty Tales, who had won his first two lifetime starts, didn’t level off after breaking from the No. 1 post position until getting to the outside in the stretch.
“It was a difficult post going seven-eighths for a horse to make one run, but in spite of all that, he ran a great race and ate a lot of dirt,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who earlier in the day saddled Verrazano for a 16 ¼ -length allowance victory that put him on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. “He finally got out at the top of the stretch and closed really well, just ran out of real estate.”
Honorable Dillon ran seven furlongs in 1:22.53 to earn $90,000 for owner Joseph Bucci with his first stakes win and second victory in four lifetime starts. Kenneally said he’d talk with the owner to come up with a plan for the gray son of Tapit.
“It’s a shame that these Grade 2 stakes aren’t getting any points for the Kentucky Derby. I think it’s wrong. We may try (to stretch him out). We’d like to try at some point,” Kenneally said. “He’s bred to go farther than seven eighths of a mile. Can he do it? We’ll find out when we try.”
Kenneally said the seven-furlong Swale (Grade 3, March 2) is a definite possibility.
The Kenneally-trained Majestic Hussar, an impressive allowance winner at Gulfstream on Jan. 19, worked five furlongs in 59.77 seconds at Palm Meadows Saturday morning. The son of Majestic Warrior is being pointed towards the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 23.
“He worked super. He’s on track for that race,” said Kenneally, whose colt turned in the fastest of eight clocked at the five-furlong distance.