John Velazquez rides Maddalena to the win in the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

John Velazquez rides Maddalena to the win in the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

AP/Equi-Photo: Bill Denver

Maddalena Motors Home in Old Hat

Undefeated Maddalena disposed of her stablemate Portsea on the turn and romped to victory in her stakes debut for trainer Todd Pletcher in the $100,000 Old Hat (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park Saturday.

Ridden by John Velazquez, Maddalena won for the third time for owners Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, who paid $425,000 for the Maryland-bred daughter of Good and Tough at Fasig-Tipton one year ago.

"This filly has been pretty special since day one," Pletcher said, noting Maddalen's 1:09 2/5 workout recorded at Calder when she 2. "She's just one of those freaky fast horses."

Pletcher said the seven-furlong Stonerside Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) on March 5 would likely be next for her.

After breaking strongly in a tightly bunched field of seven, Maddalena settled in second on the outside of Portsea down the backstretch. It was the first time she had been headed in her career, but Maddalena edged to the front at mid-turn and continued to pull away from Portsea while under pressure from Velazquez.

Alfonsina, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, lost ground on the turn behind Portsea on the inside, but emerged in the stretch to gain second, 7 1/4 lengths behind the winner, who won under a steady hand ride. Aspen Tree, J.J. Castellano aboard, angled out in the stretch and rallied for third. The final time was 1:16 1/5 for the 6 1/2-furlong event.

"She was quicker than I thought, even though she was misbehaving behind the starting gate," Velazquez said. "When she got in there she was fine. She was ready to go."

Fractions were :22 4/5, :46, and 1:10.

Maddalena broke her maiden April 30 at Churchill Downs in a 4 1/2-furlong dash, but then went to the sidelines with a series of minor injuries until returning Jan. 16 with a 6 3/4-length allowance victory at Gulfstream on a good track.

She paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10 as the odds-on choice. Alfonsina, who ran second to Megascape in the Valley Stream (gr. III) at Aqueduct in November, returned $3.60 and $2.40, completing a $12.20 exacta. Aspen Tree, a Buckram Oak Farm-owned daughter of Holy Bull. who missed winning last fall's Pocahontas by a nose at Churchill Downs, was $2.40 to show.

Great Intentions, Portsea, Glittering Tax, and Toll Taker completed the order.

Alan Hilburg bred the chestnut Maddalena, who is from the Fair Skies mare Two Foxie. The $60,000 winning purse increased her career earnings to $102,120.

(Chart, Equibase)