Fresh off her first graded coup in the February 11 Suwannee River (G3) at Gulfstream Park, Godolphin’s homebred Dickinson duly followed up a grade in Saturday’s $200,000 Hillsborough (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs.
“I was very lucky to have the best horse in the race, and she turned in a very good performance,” jockey Paco Lopez summed up.
Lopez carved out the best trip for the 3-1 chance too, nestling Dickinson in a rail-skimming fourth early. As expected, 2-1 favorite Isabella Sings sped to the front, but not nearly as fast as last year, when setting the table for Tepin’s course record. After posting splits of :23.72, :47.01, and 1:10.67 on the firm course, Isabella Sings held sway turning for home.
But once Dickinson peeled out to attack, she was too strong. Although Elysea’s World was in hot pursuit, Dickinson had stolen a march on her. The Kiaran McLaughlin mare maintained a half-length advantage at the wire and clocked 1:46.75 for 1 1/8 miles, not far off Tepin’s 1:46.26.
“We’ve been patient with her, and we’re starting to be rewarded,” said Jimmy Bell, who oversees Godolphin’s U.S. operation. “Paco fits her very well and he gave her a great ride today. We love her versatility, but the turf is where she has really started to flourish.”
Dickinson is now 4-for-5 since switching surfaces, her only turf loss being an inconvenienced fourth in the January 14 Marshua’s River (G3). Bred by Darley in Kentucky, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro and Grade 1 winner Little Belle has now earned $394,316 from her 13-6-1-2 record.
Speaking of patience, Swiss Range needs to learn to settle early. The Juddmonte homebred frittered away her chance by being overeager in this debut for Hall of Famer Bill Mott. Perhaps there was more to her clunker than just pulling hard, but Swiss Range can’t afford to be her own enemy.