Hopelessly Devoted made a successful return to the dirt, taking the $200,000 Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap for fillies and mares Saturday on Florida Million day at Calder Race Course.
The 3-year-old daughter of Storm Creek defeated the even money post time favorite, Alix M, by 1 ¼ lengths. Shady Woman was third. Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, Hopelessly Devoted won the Calder Oaks on the turf during the "Festival of the Sun" at Calder in her last start, her only try on the grass. Trainer Sandra Slivka claimed Hopelessly Devoted out of her career debut at Calder Dec. 14 for $25,000 for Liberty Stable owner Olaf Kroneman of Orchard Lake, Michigan. The win was the filly's sixth since the claim, and the $120,000 earned from this stakes race pushes her career earnings to $499,385. "She loves Florida ... I love Florida," said Slivka. "She ran very hard and has campaigned hard." She said the Calder Oaks was the main target of her fall campaign."We'll probably give her a month or so off now and we're thinking about the Sunshine Millions. We thought she'd take to the grass, so we gave it (the Calder Oaks) a shot. It worked to our advantage. Turf, dirt ... it makes no difference, she's that versatile. This was steeper competition, but she rose to the occasion."
Sent off at odds of 8-to-5, Hopelessly Devoted paid $5.40, 2.60, 2.60. She covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45 3/5.
"I put her right behind the favorite and sat just to her outside so we had a clear run at the leaders," said Velasquez. "When I asked her to go, she was full of run."