Under a heads-up ride from Cornelio Velasquez, Hot Summer made a late charge along the inside and edged pacesetter Maple Forest in the final strides to win the $102,000 Victory Ride Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) Aug. 27 at Saratoga.
Cutting back to six furlongs and off a three-month layoff for trainer David Fawkes, the daughter of Malibu Moon defeated Maple Forest by a half-length in a final time of 1:10.18 on the fast dirt. The 3-year-old filly, sent off at 7-1, earned her second graded stakes victory of the year and made the winner’s circle for the fourth time in seven lifetime starts.
She is owned by Harold Queen, who bought her for $180,000 at the Keeneland September 2009 yearling sale. The dark bay/brown filly was bred in Virginia by Lazy Lane Farms and is out of the Quiet American mare Summer Delight.
Hot Summer raced near the back a field of eight 3-year-old fillies, as Maple Forest broke from post 1 under John Velazquez and grabbed the early lead from favored Jealous Girl and Roman Treasure. She clocked a quick :21.77 first quarter and rounded the turn in command after a :44.23 half-mile.
Maple Forest, sent off at 8-1 for trainer Todd Pletcher, carried a two-length lead into the stretch with Romans Treasure her closest rival. But Hot Summer arrived on the scene at the top of the stretch and methodically made up ground on the leaders.
Velasquez steered her toward the rail approaching the sixteenth-pole, and she finally ran down a game Maple Forest just before the wire.
Maple Forest settled for second, three-quarters of a length in front of Roman Treasure. A Z Warrior was fourth.
“I liked my filly. I told my agent she was a good fit in the race," Velasquez said. "She comes from behind and has a strong finish. I wanted to be on the inside or in the middle. I had a lot of horse.”
Hot Summer, a two-time winner as a juvenile, secured her first stakes win in the April 9 Comely (gr. III) at Aqueduct going one mile. She stretched out to nine furlongs for the May 20 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico Race Course and finished third, beaten 7 3/4 lengths by Royal Delta. Fawkes gave her time off before sending her to Saratoga.
“When (Tom) Durkin called her at the head of the lane, we felt good," said Fawkes, who mentioned the Breeders' Cup as a possibility later this year. "It’s the first time I’ve been in the winner’s circle here. Every time I’ve won, I’d be home at Calder. I wouldn’t mind seeing her go seven-eighths. She ran awfully big today."
Now 4-0-2 from seven starts, Hot Summer has earned $245,700.
The winner paid $16.40, $8, and $4.90. The exacta (6-1) returned $143.80 and the trifecta (6-1-9) was worth $697.