The 4-year-old daughter of Bustin Stones out of the Freud mare Steamed Up came off a runner-up finish in Belmont's restricted Critical Eye Stakes going a mile May 31 for trainer Bruce Levine. Shortening up to the seven-furlong Bed o' Roses and getting blinkers, she ran down Vagrancy Handicap (gr. III) winner Merry Meadow in the final strides by a nose to finish in 1:21.98 on a fast track at odds of 6-1.
Irad Ortiz Jr. was aboard Hot Stones and settled his mount fourth off a pace set by Ultimate Shopper. That rival led the way tracked by Merry Meadow through a quarter in :22.79 and a half in :45.66, with Hot Stones inching her way up on the outside as they rounded the final turn.
Merry Meadow reeled in Ultimate Shopper but quickly found herself with Hot Stones to handle off her far hip. They battled through three-quarters in 1:09.53 before Hot Stones eked out the victory just in time. Calistoga came in third, four lengths farther back, followed by 7-2 favorite Street Girl in fourth.
"Cutting back from a mile to seven (furlongs]) I think the blinkers kept her a little closer," Levine said. "I didn't know if she was going to get there; (Merry Meadow) really dug in and tried hard.
"I was worried a little about the 21 days (between the Critical Eye and the Bed o' Roses), but she came back bouncing. When fillies are doing good, you have to take a shot."
"She always likes to fight a little bit when you get close to the wire," Ortiz said. "I started asking her early and she had something for the end. Thankfully, she got her head in front at the wire. I figured there would be a lot of speed in the race, but I had to move a little earlier."
Hot Stones was a fifth winner on the card for the jockey, who also won the $100,000 Wild Applause Stakes with Walk Close.
"I'm happy; I'm just doing the same thing. Winning five on the day is very exciting for me, and that's all I can say," he remarked.
Racing for Roddy Valente, Charles Casale, and Darlene Bilinski, Hot Stones has now compiled a 6-3-1 record from 11 starts for earnings of $363,607. Her two prior wins both came in allowance races against open company.
Hot Stones was bred by Valente and Jerry Bilinski, and went through the 2011 Saratoga New York preferred yearling sale where she sold for $58,000 when consigned by Highclere Sales. Crupi's New Castle Farm signed the ticket.
Levine said the next target for Hot Stones could change thanks to her open-company performance, with the $500,000 Ballerina (gr. I) Aug. 23 at Saratoga Race Course a potential option.
"We were thinking about going in a New York-bred (stakes) going long. Now we have to rethink it, maybe even point to the Ballerina with something in between."
Hot Stones is the first stakes winner for her sire, who stands at Waldorf Farm in New York for $5,000.