Number Nine May Be Too Tough for The Hillsborough Stakes Field

The Hillsborough Stakes (Grade 2)- $225.000 Purse
TAM- For Fillies and Mares Four Years Old and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Turf
March 12, 2022

As we move closer to the TAM Derby, we’ll get a look at some of virtual racing’s top female horses as six will run in the 18th running of the Hillsborough Stakes. Among them will be the reigning BC Fillies and Mares Turf winner, Number Nine, but she is not the only one in here who made a start in the BC last year. That should make for an exciting race, indeed! Last year, the race was won by Bagina, for Chili King Stables, and it would end up being the final win of her career. She has now produced two foals in the meantime. Let’s meet those running in the race!

#1- Saddle Up (Our Athletes, ridden by J R Velazquez)- Won three races in a row last summer and early fall, highlighted by winning the Grade 3 Athenia at BEL. That was actually the last race that the aforementioned Bagina would run in, too. Saddle Up would move on into a couple of Grade 1’s, and did manage to place third in the American Oaks. Just two weeks ago, she was fourth, but a very close to winning, fourth, in an optional claimer at SA and we all know those are really unofficial stakes. Gets a good test really quickly after that.

#2- Shining Moments (RNP Stables, ridden by M J Sanchez)- Her shining moment came in September, when she won the $700.000 Jockey Club Oaks at BEL in what was only her second career turf start. She’s won other big races, though, including the Grade 2 Mother Goose. More recently, she won the Grade 3 Suwannee River at GP, and passed a few late in the Pegasus F & M Turf in her last start.

#3- Number Nine (Smokey Stover, ridden by J C Ferrer)- Last November, Number Nine went wire to wire to win the BC Fillies and Mares Turf, utilizing a style that has been very friendly to her throughout her career, not just after the “engine change”. She would land with Smokey Stover in June, following a $400.000 purchase from Spankys Barn, a trainer that did a superb job with her as well. After the BC, Number Nine would win the Grade 3, $400.000 Purse Long Island and was second in the Pegasus F & M Turf. She can’t have a let up here, but as long as she runs as she is capable, this race should be hers.

#4- All By Myself (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by D Davis)- Entered her last race looking like her two stablemates running in the Challenger Stakes: with wins in just two of her 22 career starts. That did not matter at all for her, and she was all by herself at the wire of the Endeavor BC right here last month, winning by two lengths. While Number Nine wasn’t there, other good horses were, so can All By Myself put two wins back to back now?

#5- Secret Eyes (Arindel, ridden by E Jaramillo)- Ran in all three of the “Triple Tiara” races last Spring, and did finish third in the Black Eyed Susan. Followed that up with a couple of additional strong runs before hitting a rut at the worst time: for the Cotillion and the BC Distaff. This led to her being moved to the grass, and so far the jury is still out. The Grade 3 Frankel Stakes showed potential, but the two races surrounding it are not as convincing. Four of her last five starts have been sixth or worse.

#6- Zalinda (Threshold, ridden by I C Wenc)- Began her 2021 by winning five out of six races, starting with a starter allowance at FG, proving she loves it wet in the middle, and then culminating by winning the Grade 1 Flower Bowl at SAR in September. That sent her to the BC Fillies and Mares Turf, and while the trainer was hoping to ride that momentum, Zalinda never got closer than twelfth place at any point in the race. After another disappointment, she placed second in the Megahertz six weeks ago, and hopes to get back to being the horse she was at this time last year.

Prediction: 3-6-4-2

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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