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Hilda's passion for the game evident in Hurricane Bertie

Hilda's Passion has won three of her last four (Guy Gustafson/Horsephotos.com)
Sunday's $150,000 Hurricane Bertie S. (G3) at Gulfstream Park promised to serve up a rematch between Tar Heel Mom (Flatter) and HILDA'S PASSION (Canadian Frontier), who were separated by a neck in the January 15 Sugar Swirl S. (G3), but it turned out to be no match at all. Improving markedly in her second start back, and with a much better post position, Starlight Partners and C.E. Glasscock's Hilda's Passion ran her rivals off their feet en route to a 2 1/2-length victory. The Todd Pletcher filly put on an exhibition of speed for Javier Castellano, motoring 6 1/2 furlongs on the fast track in 1:15 3/5.

The betting public, which had sent Hilda's Passion off as the 2-1 favorite in the Sugar Swirl, stuck with her by betting her down to 7-5 favoritism this time, and she rewarded her supporters with mutuels of $4.80, $3.20 and $3.40.

Unlike the Sugar Swirl, where Hilda's Passion was marooned in the far outside post 10 and forced into a wide chasing trip, the four-year-old filly drew the rail in the Hurricane Bertie. Blasting right to the lead, she tore through splits of :22 and :44 3/5. The stalking Tar Heel Mom drew closer on the far turn, but soon came under pressure and could not stay within striking distance down the stretch.

Hilda's Passion surged four lengths clear, until the late-running Ms Vanenzza (Successful Appeal) gave valiant pursuit. Although no threat to the winner, Ms Vanenzza reduced the deficit and was all alone in second, a full six lengths ahead of third-placer North Rodeo (Stephen Got Even). Tar Heel Mom tired to fourth, another 3 3/4 lengths adrift. In Perpetuity (Bernstein) checked in fifth, 13 1/4 lengths clear of My Jen (Fusaichi Pegasus), who trailed by increasingly large margins as the race progressed. Jehan (Forest Wildcat) was scratched.

"We had the inside post and she had the most speed in the race," Castellano said. "I saw that some of the other horses had speed, but we had a better post. I thought the only way to go was to the lead. She broke really sharp and I didn't want to take her speed away from her. She was really good today. She felt so good about herself and came out wanting to run."

"With the one post we felt there wasn't much option but to go for the lead," Pletcher said. "She has the speed and was able to that and then go on from there.

"Last time, breaking from the outside, we tried a little something different and it kind of backfired a little," he added regarding her near-miss runner-up effort in the Sugar Swirl.

With this third stakes coup to her credit, Hilda's Passion advanced her record to 9-5-1-0, $340,256. Originally trained by Jeff Thornbury, the bay romped by six lengths at first asking at Turfway Park in January 2010, and she cleared her entry-level allowance condition three starts later at Arlington Park in May. She then joined Pletcher, finishing fourth in a Monmouth turf allowance in her first try for her new barn. Since then, Hilda's Passion has competed exclusively in stakes company. Following an 8 3/4-length demolition job in the off-the-turf Bennington S. at Saratoga in her stakes debut, she captured the October 23 Raven Run S. (G2) at Keeneland in her sophomore finale.

Bred by Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Kuster in Kentucky, Hilda's Passion RNA'd for $4,200 as a Keeneland November weanling. She is out of the winning El Prado (Ire) mare Executricker, whose latest foals are an unraced sophomore colt named Mannak (Canadian Frontier), a full brother to Hilda's Passion, and a juvenile colt named Edge of the World (Quest). Further back, this is the family of English highweight Twice Over (GB) (Observatory), who became a two-time winner of the Champion S. (Eng-G1) last time out on October 16; Group 1 queen Passage of Time (GB) (Dansili [GB]); champion Banshee Breeze (Unbridled); and Hall of Famer and noted sire Damascus (Sword Dancer).

Pletcher mentioned that Hilda's Passion would likely contest the next race in Gulfstream's series for older female sprinters, the seven-furlong Inside Information S. (G2) on March 19.


 


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