He Loves Me Wins 5th Stakes as Pimlico Opens

He Loves Me loves Pimlico. She proved it again on the opening day of the summer meet Saturday with a methodical score in the $100,000 Twixt Stakes for 3-year-old registered Maryland-bred fillies.

The victory, under jockey Jozbin Santana, marked He Loves Me's fifth stakes score of the year, with three coming at Pimlico. Even more remarkable, it was Santana's fourth straight added-money win at Old Hilltop, dating back to the spring when he won the last three stakes races carded at the meeting.

Against seven others, including rival Richetta, He Loves Me broke alertly, stalked the pace from mid-pack, moved up steadily until capturing the lead spinning into the lane and then pulled away to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Richetta. Pour It On was third. He Loves Me completed the nine furlongs in 1:51.12 and paid $2.80 as the overwhelming 2-5 favorite.

He Loves Me is is a homebred for Buckingham Farm and trained by Richard Small. Small smiled broadly in the winners' circle and said, "Once in a blue moon we get a horse like this. I think she's really improved. She's holding her weight and maybe even picking up some weight. I think she has a future."

Small indicated the Not For Love filly might run at Belmont Park in September before the Maryland Million Oaks at Pimlico on Oct. 9.

Santana rode three winners on opening day, scoring for Small in the seventh with Night Heron ($3). He visited the winners' circle on Artillery Man ($18) in the sixth.

(Chart, Equibase)