Old Tune rolls home in the Hillsborough Stakes.

Old Tune rolls home in the Hillsborough Stakes.

Tom Cooley Photography

Play It Again: Old Tune Wins Hillsborough

Endeavour Stakes winner lands Tampa Bay Downs' Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT).

Stud TNT’s Old Tune, winner of Tampa Bay Downs’ Endeavour Stakes (gr. IIIT) Feb. 2, returned to wire the field March 9 in the $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT).

The winner, nursed along on the lead throughout fairly soft fractions, was ridden by Joel Rosario and they covered the nine furlongs in 1:48.92. The 3-2 favorite was 1 1/4 lengths clear at the wire (VIDEO).

Martin Schwartz’s Forces of Darkness, making her U.S. debut, rallied up the hedge for second by a head in a blanket finish over Mystical Star. Kya One was another head back in fourth.

Old Tune was quick away from the gate and grabbed the lead as the field of 12 made their way down the turf chute and was tracked by Hooh Why and Mystical Star early on, with Absolute Crackers also up on the pace while traveling wide under Edgar Prado. The early splits were :24.89 and :50.12. She continued on the front end while dueling with Hooh Why, who had her head in front through six furlongs in 1:14.

Kya One rallied to get into second position in the stretch and was joined by Forces of Darkness late as Hooh Why weakened.

“I felt like this was a tougher field than (the Endeavour)," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "There were some very good quality fillies coming from Europe, and you always worry about the second time after a big effort her first time in the U.S. She is adaptable to different pace scenarios, and we felt like there wasn’t much pace in here so we would let her do her thing. It worked out very well and Joel gave her a very nice ride."

The winner, a 5-year-old Brazilian-bred mare, is by Wild Event out of the Irish Fighter mare Chanson Pour Julia. She was bred by Haras Internacional. A four-time group I winner in Brazil, Old Tune was making her second start stateside for Pletcher.

Stud TNT is owned by Goncalo Torrealba.

In 2012 Old Tune was a perfect four-for-four, rattling off three group Is: the one-mile Grand Prix Henrique Possolo-Stud TNT; the 1 1/4-mile Grand Prix Stud TNT Diana; and the 12-furlong Grand Prix Zelia Peixoto Castro. All were on turf.

Old Tune now sports a 8-1-2 mark from 14 career starts. She has earned $478,180.

“Mr. Torrealba sent her to me, so we were the beneficiary of getting a high-quality filly," Pletcher said. "She trains very well on the dirt and is very versatile and professional. We are lucky to have her. We might look at a race at Keeneland next for her.”

Old Tune paid $5, $3.40, and $2.80 as the 124-pound co-high wieght. Forces of Darkness, the second choice at 7-2, paid $4.60 and $3.60. Mystical Star returned $3.80. The $2 exacta (7-5) paid $21.60. The $1 trifecta (7-5-3) returned $30.30.

Hooh Why was fifth, followed by Alaura Michele, Audington, Appealing Cat, Last Full Measure, Blue Heart, Absolute Crackers, and Stars to Shine.

It was the fourth win for Pletcher, who won the Hillsborough in 2006 with Ready’s Gal, 2007 with Cassydora, and in 2010 with Phola. Pletcher would land Tampa Bay Downs' biggest prize in the following race, the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) with unbeaten Verrazano .

Last year’s Hillsborough winner was Schwartz’s Zagora, who would go on to win the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) and be named champion turf female of 2012.