Fifth at a relatively short price in the Delaware Oaks (G3) last month, Hopeful Growth lived up to her moniker with a much-improved effort in Saturday’s $212,000 Monmouth Oaks (G3), dominating the 1 1/16-mile affair late and putting herself in the picture for the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Sent off at 11-1 this time under Antonio Gallardo, Hopeful Growth saved ground in fourth most of the way before angling out to make a three-wide bid in upper stretch. She wore down the tiring 7-5 favorite Lucrezia and Delaware Oaks winner Project Whiskey and drew off to win by four lengths. The final time over a fast track was 1:45.63.
Owned by St. Elias Stable and trained by Anthony Margotta Jr., Hopeful Growth paid $25.60. Project Whiskey held second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Eve of War. Dream Marie ran fourth and was followed by Lucrezia, Market Rumor, Piece of My Heart, Princess Cadey, and Comical.
Hopeful Growth earned 50 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Oaks, while Project Whiskey earned 20 points. Eve of War earned 10 points and Dream Marie five points.
A photo-finish winner of her debut at Monmouth last June over 4 1/2 furlongs, Hopeful Growth was not seen again until Mar. 21, when she finished second in an allowance at Gulfstream. A 3 3/4-length allowance scorer at Tampa going 7 furlongs in her next start, she made no impact last out in the Delaware Oaks, finishing 7 1/4 lengths behind Project Whiskey her first start around two turns. With blinkers back on today, Hopeful Growth improved her record to 5-3-1-0, $183,240.
“Her last race was the first time she ran around two turns,” Margotta said. “We were hoping to hit the board there, but typically a horse going two turns for the first time in our program may need a race around two turns the first time. This was our bull’s eye target.
“I took the blinkers off her last two races so she would learn a little. I put them back on (today) so she would focus more after she learned a little bit.
“The Delaware Oaks was a race we needed to get in before this one for the two-turn experience and to learn. I loved the trip (today). She was patient on the rail. That’s what we have been teaching her to do and it paid off.”
Bred in Kentucky by Phillips Racing Partnership, Hopeful Growth was a $160,000 Keeneland September yearling. By Tapiture, she was produced by the Rock Hard Ten mare Maiden America, a half-sister to Japanese champion Grass Wonder and the Grade 1-winning Wonder Again. Hopeful Growth is herself a half-sister to Grade 3-winning juvenile Ten City.