Hollywood Hit, ridden by Jim McAleney, led all the way as the odds-on favorite to defeat four rivals in the $159,559 Jacques Cartier (VIDEO) for his first stakes score April 11 at Woodbine.
Making his first start since Sept. 30 for new trainer Daniel O'Callaghan, the 4-year-old Oklahoma-bred son of Cactus Ridge posted his fourth win in five races by a half-length over 2009 Canadian sprint champion Field Commission . Peter Redekop owns the winning gelding.
Hollywood Hit broke slowly but went to the front from his outside post soon after the start of the six-furlong Polytrack event and built a 1 1/2-length lead over Monty's Best while flashing quarter-mile splits of :22.01 and :44.40.
"He had those 'first-race back butterflies.' He was sharp on the post parade, said McAleney. "That's just the real competitor coming out in him. That carried over to the gate. When the gates opened up, he was trying to break too hard. He kind of missed his first step."
In spite of some pressure on the turn, the quick pace did not seem to take much of the front-runner, who opened up by two lengths over El Brujo, who had pressed by Monty's Best at the eighth pole. Hollywood Hit, racing well off the rail, was forced to dig down in the final furlong to hold off the oncoming Field Commission, who charged from the far outside under Emile Ramsammy to make it close at the end. The final time was a swift 1:08.99.
"He's got natural speed. It was a little more natural today," said McAleney. "I think with this race under his belt, he'll be a lot better next time and be able to settle down."
El Brujo, ridden by Patrick Husbands, finished third, three-quarters of a length behind Field Commission. Monty's Best and Written in Stone followed.
In his last start for trainer Terry Jordan, Hollywood Hit tallied a 5 1/2-length win in a stakes at Woodbine, but he was later disqualified from purse money. As a result, his career mark now stands at 5-2-0 in 10 races with earnings of $232,604.
"He's the fastest horse I've ever ridden," said the veteran McAleney. "I just love this horse. He's brilliant."
C.R. Trout bred the winner, who is out of Solid Hit, by Time for a Change. The dark bay began his career racing on the southwest circuit before transferring to Jordan's care in Canada last summer.
Hollywood Hit carried 116 pounds and paid $3.10, $2.20 and $2.10. Field Commission, winner of the Nearctic Stakes (Can-IIT) on the Woodbine grass last season for trainer Daniel Vella, returned $2.80 and and $2.10 in his 2010 debut. He rounded out a $7.80 exacta. El Brujo, a two-time grade III winner in Kentucky last year, was also making his seasonal debut for trainer Malcolm Pierce. He paid $2.30 to show.