Hilda's Passion Top Choice in Humana Distaff

Hilda's Passion Top Choice in Humana Distaff
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Hilda's Passion is seeking her first grade I win.
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Hilda's Passion, a two-time graded stakes winner this season at Gulfstream Park, heads a strong field of eight older fillies and mares in the $300,000 Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I) on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs May 7.

Trained by Todd Pletcher for Starlight Partners and C.E. Glassock, the 4-year-old daughter of Canadian Frontier is the 6-5 morning line favorite for the seven-furlong event. The Humana Distaff is the seventh race on the stakes-filled program with a 2:08 p.m. EDT scheduled post.

Winner of Keeneland's Raven Run Stakes (gr. II) on Polytrack in her final start as a 3-year-old last fall, Hilda's Passion has continued her excellent form in 2011. She is seeking her first grade I win.

Favored in all three major sprint stakes for females at Gulfstream, Hilda's Passion started the year Jan. 15 with a neck loss in the six-furlong Sugar Swirl (gr. III), coming up a bit short to Tar Heel Mom after making a four-wide move into the homestretch. The bay filly bounced back with a front-running 2 1/2-length triumph in the 6 1/2-furlong Hurricane Bertie (gr. III) Feb. 13, then dominated her rivals in the seven-furlong Inside Information (gr. II) March 19, leading gate to wire once more in a 5 1/4-length romp. This will be her first start since then.

Javier Castellano, who was aboard Hilda's Passion for all three of her Gulfstream races, retains the mount. Hilda's Passion was favorably drawn in post 7 and will carry 122 pounds, two fewer than the top-weighted Shotgun Gulch. The favorite, making her debut at Churchill Downs, has won six of 10 starts in her career while banking $430,256.

Shotgun Gulch will be ridden by Garrett Gomez, who teamed with the 4-year-old Oklahoma-bred filly to produce an 11-1 surprise in the seven-furlong Madison Stakes (gr. I) over Keeneland's Polytrack April 14. Trained by her breeder and owner, C. R. Trout, the daughter of Thunder Gulch is 6-1 on the morning line. She has won seven of 17 lifetime starts and earned $478,146.

Two of the fillies she defeated in the Madison, favored Amen Hallelujah and second choice Evening Jewel, also return in the Humana Distaff. Both are 5-1 on the early line for the Humana Distaff.

IEAH Stables and partners' Amen Hallelujah is winless in four starts this year, but has three seconds, including her loss by a head in the Madison after she was steadied in traffic at the quarter pole.

Michael Nevin takes over training chores with the 4-year-old Montbrook filly who began the year in the Rick Dutrow Jr. barn. He will add blinkers to Amen Hallelujah, who also ran second to the top choice in the Inside Information. John Velazquez is back aboard.

The California-bred filly Evening Jewel, owned by the Braly Family Trust and trained by James Cassidy, is the only million-dollar earner in the field with $1,217,943. Most of that total came last year when the bay recorded a 4-3-2 mark in nine starts including victories in the Honeymoon (gr. II) and San Clemente (gr. IIT) handicaps and the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT). Victor Espinoza rode her in all of those wins and retains the mount.

The 4-year-old daughter of Northern Afleet   has won stakes on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces. Evening Jewel started twice at Churchill in 2010, missing by a nose to Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and finishing third in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I). Her lone victory in four starts this season came in the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita. She was fourth in the Madison after needing a shoe repair prior to the race.

Westrock Stables' Tidal Pool (8-1) drew the far outside post for trainer Wayne Lukas. The 4-year-old Yankee Gentleman   filly set a quick pace in the 1 1/16-mile Red Bud Stakes April 13 at Oaklawn Park and held on for a neck victory. Calvin Borel rides again.

Also pegged at 8-1 is New Mexico shipper Twelve Twenty Two, winner of her last four starts by a combined margin of 27 lengths at Sunland Park. Trained by Henry Dominguez, the 6-year-old Kafwain   mare is coming off 5 1/2-length victory in the one-mile Harry Henson Stakes March 27.

Stage Magic (12-1), second in the New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds March 12, and Sassy Image (15-1), winner of the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) as the favorite at Churchill during her 2-year-old campaign in 2009, complete the field.

$300,000 Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I, Race 7, 2:08 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Sassy Image (KY), R Albarado, 118, D L Romans, 15/1
2. Stage Magic (KY), J Graham, 118, H Pitts, 12/1
3. Evening Jewel (CA), V Espinoza, 120, J M Cassidy, 5/1
4. Amen Hallelujah (FL), J R Velazquez, 118, M Nevin, 5/1
5. Shotgun Gulch (OK), G K Gomez, 124, C R Trout, 6/1
6. Twelve Twenty Two (FL), J R Leparoux, 120, H Dominguez, 8/1
7. Hilda's Passion (KY), J Castellano, 122, T A Pletcher, 6/5
8. Tidal Pool (KY), C H Borel, 120, D W Lukas, 8/1
Blinkers On: Amen Hallelujah
 

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