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Hilda's Passion leaves the rest behind in the Ballerina.
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Hilda's Passion Shows Her Heels in Ballerina

Fast filly leaves field behind in the Saratoga stretch; favored Sassy Image eased.

Front-running Hilda's Passion became a grade I winner with a romping 9 1/4-length triumph in the $250,000 Ballerina Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 27 (VIDEO).

Ridden by Javier Castellano, Hilda's Passion atoned for a poor effort last time in the Bed o' Roses (gr. III) at Belmont Park with a sterling victory in the seven-furlong Ballerina. Trained by Todd Pletcher for owners Starlight Racing and Charles E. Glasscock, Hilda's Passion turned in a good time of 1:22.06 while leading throughout on a fast track.

"We wanted to be on the lead, she broke great, and when she’s on her game, she’s awfully, awfully good," Pletcher said.

Hilda's Passion earned a starting berth in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) as part of the "Win and You're In" Challenge series.

Tar Heel Mom finished second, with Tamarind Hall third. Sassy Image, the 3-2 favorite in the field of six fillies and mares, broke poorly from her far outside post and veered very wide on the turn before being eased by jockey Robby Albarado.

Bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Kuster, Hilda's Passion is a 4-year-old daughter of Canadain Frontier--Executrciker, by El Prado.

Hilda's Passion picked up her fourth victory in seven starts this year and posted her third graded stakes score of the campaign. Her only poor start of the season came in the Bed o' Roses July 3 when she threw in the towel after contesting the pace. She finished sixth of seven, 12 1/4 lengths behind Tamarind Hall.

“I don’t know what happened with her the last time," Castellano said. "I’m glad it’s over and we have turned the page. Today, it was a great day. I am very satisfied with the way she did it today."

Second choice Hilda's Passion immediately went to the front for Castellano as her main rivals in the race, Tar Heel Mom and Sassy Image, got away poorly. Tar Heel Mom stumbled badly and Alex Solis did a good job keeping her together, and while just to her outside, Sassy Image gave the field several lengths in the opening yards in a sluggish beginning.

Hilda's Passion stepped the opening quarter-mile in :22.83 and completed a half-mile in :45.43 as Tar Heel Mom, recovering from the stumble, and Tamarind Hall attempted to keep up. Hilda's Passion maintained control around the turn and opened up when asked at the top of the stretch. She led by five lengths at the eighth pole and drew away from there while kept busy to the wire.

"She broke so sharp, settled well, and was relaxed. She’s a very fast horse," Castellano said. "I knew she was going to give me a good performance. When I was going to ask her, I knew she would give it to me.”

While no match for the winner in the stretch, Tar Heel Mom -- winner of the Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga Aug. 7 -- salvaged the runner-up spot by a neck over Tamarind Hall and David Cohen. Bronx City Girl was a distant fourth, followed by Devil by Design and Sassy Image, who was nearly 27 lengths behind.

“I don’t know what happened, she just wanted to bolt," Albarado said of Sassy Image, who was coming off a neck victory in the Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) at Calder Casino & Race Course July 9 and had won three races in a row. "She was just unmanageable. She would have run to the outside fence if I’d have let her. She felt sound under me, and she has never shown anything like that.”

Hilda's Passion earned $150,000 for her eighth win in 14 starts, boosting her career bankroll to $739,493. She carried 122 pounds to victory and paid $7.10, $4, and $3.30. Tar Heel Mom returned $4.40 and $3.10. The exacta was worth $25.20. The show price on Tamarind Hall was $4.10.

Hour Glass scratched.