Home Run Hitter Knocks Randaroo Out of Park

Home Run Hitter turned the tables on the overwhelming 1-20 favorite Randaroo and won the Smart Halo Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico.

The last time these fillies hooked up, they also ran 1-2, but in the opposite order.

Home Run Hitter, under jockey Jose Caraballo, let undefeated Randaroo and jockey Mario Pino bounce to the front in the six-furlong test but stayed glued to them down the backstretch. Around the far turn and into the stretch they inched forward until they were able to push ahead, then continued on to win by a neck. Bamba finished third, just another neck behind.

Coming into the Smart Halo, Randaroo had won three straight as the odds-on favorite in each of her starts.

Home Run Hitter's winning time was 1:11.94 and she paid $29.80, $2.60 and $2.10 in a five-horse field. Randaroo returned $2.10 and $2.10. Bamba showed for $2.10.

"She broke really sharp and I rated her back and she relaxed," Carballo said. "When I asked her to go she was ready. I had plenty of horse left. I've been watching the races here and it's best to sit off the pace and come on in the end and it worked out great.

"I did not want to see that filly (Randaroo) in the race and I really didn't think we had a shot," winning trainer Ben Feliciano Jr. said. "She showed a lot of heart today and ran really gamely. I told Jose to not try to run with her. Second was fine with me but she's a tough filly and I'm glad she got the victory."

"I'm kind of in shock," said Pino. "(Randaroo) didn't run her top race today. She struggled at the 3/8th pole. I was asking her right there and that's not a good sign if you have any horse. But she hung in there right down to the wire."

The victory was worth $30,000 to the partnership of Muldoon, Zanella and Reed and gave the Kentucky-bred daughter of Grand Slam a record of four wins and two seconds in eight starts with earnings of $92,530.

The win was the second on the afternoon for Feliciano, who is tied with Dale Capuano and Ferris Allen at the top of the training standings after two weeks of the spring meet with five victories.

(Chart, Equibase)