Published in April 28 issue of The Blood-Horse
By Robert Knolhoff Jr.
Possessing that rare blend of royal lineage and affinity for competition, both neatly wrapped within her agile physique, Country Hideaway appears to have it all. What could be missing, reasons Buzz Tenney, other than a grade I triumph next to her name? "Honestly, I'm a little surprised she doesn't have one already," said Shug McGaughey's assistant trainer, shortly before saddling a Phipps-bred daughter of Educated Risk named Cleverly. "I've seen quite a few grade I-winning fillies who weren't nearly as talented as she is, but she's faced good ones like Dream Supreme all along, so maybe this is her year." Deputizing for McGaughey on a hazy Saturday afternoon at the Big A, Tenney was certainly not looking past Country Hideaway's start in the April 21 Bed o' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III). The race lured a typically attractive cast of seven, including a resplendent-looking Jostle in her New York return. Moreover, victory in the $157,700 race for the 5-year-old daughter of Seeking the Gold would be her first beyond seven furlongs. With her customary one-two punch of quick acceleration near the quarter pole and late determination, Country Hideaway pulled it off beneath a polished John Velazquez ride for an energizing victory over grade I winners Critical Eye and Jostle. "The key with her is to wait, wait, and then wait some more," said Tenney. "She has a really good run, but sustains it for only about a quarter mile. Johnny said he had to move her a little earlier than he wanted to because they needed a clear path." Folly Dollar, a neck ahead of Country Hideaway in the March 24 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II), held a slim lead over favored Dat You Miz Blue and a keen Critical Eye through modest clockings of :23.52 and :46.42, while Country Hideaway and Jostle settled at the back of the pack. Velazquez commenced Country Hideaway's bid on the far turn by angling her off the rail and into the four path. Concurrently, Critical Eye, closer to the pace than normal, wound up on the inside after her bold move beneath Jorge Chavez, and Jostle gained momentum while rallying widest of all. Country Hideaway gained the lead with a furlong remaining and was urged home with a closing quarter of :24:66 before prevailing by a nose over New York-bred champion Critical Eye, who ran marvelously while finishing three-quarters of a length over fast-finishing Jostle. Velazquez was aboard Ogden Phipps' homebred for the first time. "You want to keep her in behind horses so she settles or else she pulls you too early," he said. "I wanted to wait a little longer, but she ran a big race." Jostle, last year's winner of the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama (both gr. I), was fully dappled and a picture of readiness in the paddock after her morning van ride from Philadelphia Park, but was dismissed at 5-1. Minutes later, the 4-year-old daughter of Brocco overcame her flat seasonal bow and an arduous trip with an impressive finish beneath Mike Smith.
"She buckled right out of the gate and Mike said he could sense her frustration," said trainer John Servis. "She grabbed her quarter pretty good, but she's fine and her finish was just what we wanted. She really looked the part today but her best distance is probably a mile and a quarter. How many can you say that about nowadays?" Tenney pointed out the stable must juggle plans for fillies like Atelier and Finder's Fee alongside those of Country Hideaway. "One of them will likely go in the Shuvee (a grade II fixture earmarked for Critical Eye). I've always thought we could send Country Hideaway a mile or beyond, if she'd allow us. Her breeding says we can." Tenney further credits her graceful action to "her long back, which really helps her stride out." On the Bed o' Roses victory roll, Country Hideaway joins the company of Straight Deal, Banker's Lady, and Catinca. Grade I company, for sure. (Chart, Equibase)