June 24, 2024

She Feels Pretty exudes class in Hilltop; Mystic Lake wires Miss Preakness

She Feels Pretty wins the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico (Photo by Maryland Jockey Club)

Three-year-old fillies are by definition in the spotlight on Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico, including on the undercard, which featured a pair of dominating performances from that demographic on Friday. The 3-5 favorite She Feels Pretty won the $100,000 Hilltop S. in a canter, and Mystic Lake commanded the $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) on the front end.

Hilltop S.

Trained by Cherie deVaux, who had just sent out Shotgun Hottie to romp in the Allaire DuPont Distaff one race earlier, She Feels Pretty was far and away the class of the Hilltop field. The impressive winner of last fall’s Natalma (G1) was last seen finishing a close third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Those probing for potential vulnerabilities could wonder about the six-month layoff, and whether any of her unexposed rivals might jump up here.

She Feels Pretty offered emphatic answers. Under Hall of Famer John Velazquez, the Lael Stables colorbearer was covered up just off the pace set by longshot Roanan Goddess through splits of :23.92 and :48.85. Just Better appeared to be well placed in a tracking second. When Just Better took over on the far turn, clocking six furlongs in 1:14.61, She Feels Pretty followed her through into the lane.

The outcome was never in doubt as the favorite cruised alongside Just Better, then rapidly opened up. Drawing off by 5 3/4 lengths, She Feels Pretty completed the mile over a good turf course in 1:38.59.

Just Better was easily best of the rest by 3 1/2 lengths. Waves of Mischief closed from last to finish a clear third.

Royal Wintour, who appeared to clip heels in traffic entering the far turn, crossed the wire a further 6 1/2 lengths adrift in fourth. Her jockey, Jorge Ruiz, lodged a short-lived claim of foul against She Feels Pretty. The stewards dismissed it in expeditious fashion. Next came Turf Rocket and the tailed-off Roanan Goddess.

Expatriate was wrapped up on down the backstretch and eventually pulled up, but walked off according to the chart.

She Feels Pretty sports a mark of 4-3-0-1, $412,379. The Karakontie filly broke her maiden at first asking in an Ellis Park turf dash, just getting up in time by a neck. She appreciated the stretch-out to a mile in the Natalma at Woodbine, where she booked her Breeders’ Cup ticket by an authoritative margin of 4 1/4 lengths. She Feels Pretty endured a wide trip around Santa Anita in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, yet lost by only a half-length.

Her Hilltop display is a statement of intent for the three-year-old fillies’ turf division. DeVaux mentioned New York’s turf series as a logical target. She Feels Pretty is out of a half-sister to Summer Solo, the third-placer in the 2014 Belmont Oaks (G1).

Bred by Payson Stud in Kentucky and purchased for $240,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, She Feels Pretty hails from the family of multiple French Group 1 victor Act One. Her dam, the More Than Ready mare Summer Sweet, is a half-sister to stakes winners Summer Breezing and Adirondack Summer, as well as the aforementioned Summer Solo, who has produced graded performers Solo Album and Maedean.

The Very One S.

The day’s other turf stakes, the $100,000 The Very One S., went to 13-10 favorite Future Is Now. A four-year-old half-sister to Call Another Play, who would go on to place third later in the afternoon in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2), the R. Larry Johnson homebred rolled by 2 1/4 lengths from longshots Shoshanah and Hollywood Walk. Morning line favorite Kaufymaker was scratched.

Trained by Michael Trombetta and piloted by Paco Lopez, Future Is Now sped five grassy furlongs in :58.29 to earn her first stakes coup. The daughter of Great Notion had been a close second in the March 10 Captiva Island S. at Gulfstream Park and fifth versus males in the April 20 King T. Leatherbury S. at Laurel.

Maryland-bred Future Is Now is out of the Bernardini mare Past as Prelude, who is also responsible for stakes-placed Continentalcongres along with now Grade 2-placed stakes vixen Call Another Play. Past as Prelude is herself a half to Grade 3-winning sire Street Magician.

Miss Preakness (G3)

C2 Racing and Stefania Farms’ Mystic Lake promised to show early speed from her rail post, but the 5.80-1 shot just kept on motoring for Flavien Prat.

Able to avoid a theoretical pace duel by establishing a clear lead, the Saffie Joseph Jr. filly found her comfort zone through fractions of :23.09 and :46.44. The stalking Launch was beaten by the top of the stretch, when 2.30-1 favorite Youalmosthadme advanced into second.

Mystic Lake was already gone, however, and she widened her advantage to 4 1/2 lengths at the wire. Covering six furlongs in 1:11.40, the daughter of Mo Town paid $13.60.

Youalmosthadme held second by 1 1/2 lengths from Discreet Ops, who prevailed in the photo for third over fellow closer Cap Classique. Lady Moscato, Belle’s Blue Bell, slow-starting Value Area, Carmelina, Launch, Miss Harriett, Closing Act, and Let Them Watch.

Mystic Lake’s third stakes score boosted her bankroll to $291,554 from a 9-4-2-1 line. Her first two stakes laurels came at Tampa Bay Downs in the Gasparilla S. and the Sophomore Fillies S. for Florida-breds. The dark bay has also placed in a trio of stakes at Woodbine – the Glorious Song S. and Mazarine (G3) at two and most recently the April 27 Star Shoot S.

Bred by Peggy Costanzo in the Sunshine State, Mystic Lake was a $3,500 OBS October yearling who blossomed into a $130,000 OBS March juvenile. She was offered on Fasig-Tipon’s digital platform this month, but RNA’d for $370,000.

Mystic Lake was produced by the Itsmyluckyday mare Salty Soul. While black-type is fairly thin on the ground in her immediate family, Mystic Lake traces to *Mysterious, who turned the 1000 Guineas (G1)/Oaks (G1) double in 1973. *Mysterious is herself a half-sister to transatlantic champion J O Tobin, famous for toppling formerly unbeaten Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew in the 1977 Swaps (G1).