It was close, but Hit It Rich prevailed in the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 31 at South Florida’s Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old daughter of Smart Strike got up late to defeat Aqsaam by a half-length. The runner-up finished only a head in front of favored Keertana in the 1 ½-mile race over a firm course (VIDEO).
Javier Castellano, who was aboard Hit It Rich, rated her off the pace as Aqsaam set fractions of :23.78, :47.78, and 1:14.04. She was three lengths in front of Hit It Rich as they headed into the Orchid’s final quarter mile. But Hit It Rich surged strongly and Aqsaam couldn’t hold her off. Keertana, meanwhile, closed determinedly after relaxing in last early in the field of nine.
Hit It Rich’s winning time was 2:28.06 in her second outing of the year. In her 2012 debut, she finished second, beaten a half-length by Snow Top Mountain, in the Feb. 11 Suwannee River Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream.
Last November, Hit It Rich triumphed in the Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct to pick up her first added-money victory. Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, she has won six of her 13 career races while finishing second twice and third twice. Stuart S. Janney III’s homebred gray or roan mare has earned $363,310.
Hit It Rich, who was the Orchid’s second betting choice, rewarded her supporters with payoffs of $7.40, $4, and $2.80. Aqsaam returned $5.20 and $3.40. Keertana paid $2.40.
Bred in Kentucky, Hit It Rich is out of the 1996 Arlington Heights Oaks (gr. III) winner Cuando Puede (by Lord At War) and is a half sister to added-money winner Spanish Mission (by Coronado's Quest).