Since transferring into the barn of Todd Pletcher last summer, Hilda's Passion has steadily improved. But on March 19 at Gulfstream Park she took her game to a whole different level another level, setting a new seven-furlong track record when dominating the field in the $150,000 Inside Information Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) under Javier Castellano.
The 4-year-old daughter of Canadian Frontier put away Amen Hallelujah at the top of the stretch and pulled clear for a 5 1/4-length romp to snare her fourth stakes victory since last summer. She stopped the clock in a dazzling 1:20.45 on the fast dirt, setting the new track record that had been held by Big Drama when he ran 1:20.88 in 2009.
The bay filly is owned by Starlight Partners and C. E. Glasscock. She was bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Kuster.
Entering off a 2 1/2-length score in the Feb. 13 Hurricane Bertie (gr. III), Hilda’s Passion was sent off as the heavy 3-5 favorite in the Inside Information. She broke on top and never looked back despite setting brisk opening fractions of :22.07 and :44.20.
Amen Hallelujah stalked her for most of the way under John Velazquez and came up to challenge on the turn, but Hilda’s Passion (six furlongs in 1:07.96) hit another gear when she straightened away. She had a three-length advantage at the eighth-pole and drew clear for the no-doubt-about-it victory.
Amen Hallelujah held second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Stephanie Got Even.
“I know she has a lot of speed," Castellano said. "What I really liked about today was how she went to the lead but she was so relaxed. She was really comfortable and when I asked her, it was amazing. She just took off. I knew she was going to run fast, I didn’t know she was going to break the track record.”
A winner in two of four starts for trainer Jeffrey Thornbury, Hilda’s Passion made her stakes debut in her second start for Pletcher last summer at Saratoga, rolling to an 8 3/4-length triumph in the Bennington Stakes. She then won the Lexus Raven Run (gr. II) at Keeneland to complete her 3-year-old campaign. Her only blemish in this recent run of success was a neck defeat to Tar Heel Mom in the Jan. 15 Sugar Swirl (gr. III) in her season debut.
“She travels so smoothly that you don’t realize how fast she’s going, but when I saw the :44 (half-mile), and Amen Hallelujah inch up to her, I thought she might have a real race on her hands until she drew away in the stretch," Pletcher said. "We’ll take her to Churchill and point for the Humana Distaff, the grade I on (Kentucky) Derby Day, also at seven-eighths. She’s trained well over that track in the past.”
Hilda’s Passion, who is out of the El Prado mare Executricker, improved to 6-1-0 from 10 starts and upped her earnings to $430,256.
The winner paid $3.20, $2.20, and $2.10. The exacta (5-4) returned $9 and the trifecta (5-4-1) was worth $24.60 for $1.