Tracking the early pace, Roger Weiss’ Hudson Steele stormed to the lead at the eighth pole then held off his rivals in the May 19 Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico Race Course (VIDEO) . The $300,000 Dixie, for older runners at nine furlongs on the turf, is traditionally run as the race before the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Hudson Steele got the trip in 1:47.29 over firm ground, handily defeating Sagamore Farm’s Humble and Hungry by 2 1/2 lengths. It was a half-length back to Stella Perdomo’s Forte Dei Marmi in third.
Straight Story, as expected, set the early pace and led the field past the wire the first time at Old Hilltop. Straight Story set soft early splits of :24 and :47.77 while being tracked by Trend, Boxeur des Rues, and Hudson Steele, who hugged the hedge under Javier Castellano.
Straight Story got the six furlongs in 1:12.06. The field bunched turning for home, but Hudson Steele quickly spurted clear of the pack to open up by several lengths at the eighth pole after a mile in 1:35.56.
The winner, a 5-year-old gelding by Johannesburg, is trained by Todd Pletcher.
“He was loaded up the whole way," Pletcher said. "Javy found a seam at the top of the stretch and he responded and fired. It was a real big effort.”
Hudson Steele, the third foal out of the Smart Strike mare Strike the Sky, was bred in Kentucky by Jay W. Bligh. Entered in the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale, he was an out as part of the Claiborne Farm, agent, consignment.
Hudson Steele prepped for the Dixie at Pimlico April 28 in his seasonal debut. Sitting off the pace going a mile in the Henry Clark Stakes, he pulled clear in the lane to by 2 1/4 lengths under Chris Decarlo. He was the only horse in the Dixie field of 11 to have a win over the Pimlico turf course.
“He traveled so good," Castellano said. "The pace was pretty good for him. It worked out perfectly because he was ready to move when I wanted. He exploded. It was amazing. He was so strong. I really liked the way he did it.”
He only made two starts last year, an optional claiming score April 3 at Gulfstream Park and a neck defeat to Straight Story in the May 7 Fort Marcy Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park.
Hudson Steele, who boosted his earnings to $435,124 with his sixth lifetime win 10 races, paid $8.20, $4.60, and $3.60. Humble and Hungry returned $13.20 and 7, and Forte de Marmi paid $6.40.