Previewing the 2018 Ride to the Million: Hatoof Stakes Preview

The Hatoof Stakes began its life in 2002 as an early-fall overnight stakes race, but the next year it was moved to the month of August, serving as a local prep for the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes.  In 2015 the Pucker Up moved to Million Day -- and the Hatoof was not run.  Off the calendar from then through last year, it returns this year earlier than ever, as the local prep for the Pucker Up on Million Day.  The race takes its name from Hatoof, the Champion Grass Mare of 1994. That year she defeated eventual Hall of Fame inductee Flawlessly in the Beverly D., and finished second behind the colt Tikkanen in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1).  Prominent winners of the Hatoof Stakes include 2012 Modesty Handicap (G3) winner Romacaca (2012), 2012 Pucker Up Stakes winner Leading Astray (2012), and 2013 Pucker Up Stakes winner and 2014 Modesty Handicap (G3) winner I'm Already Sexy (2013).

In separate pieces, we preview the Arlington Handicap (G3), the Modesty Handicap (G3), the Stars and Stripes Stakes (G3)and the American Derby (G3).

Selections have been made for turf only.  Morning lines were not available at original publish time.  Updated Thursday, July 5 with morning lines.

Arlington Park - Saturday, July 7

Race 7: Hatoof Stakes, three-year-old fillies, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 4:51pm CDT

GO NONI GO comes in off a second-place finish in the Regret Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs.  Though that came along the front end, the front end may be quite contested here -- COOL BEANS will likely be forced to send from the inside, CHEEKY CHERUB needs the lead to close the deal, and RAHWAY, BEACH WALTZ, and possibly even MOUNTAIN MOMMA might show some speed.  The pace will be at least honest.  The good news for GO NONI GO is that she also has good from from well off the pace: she closed well to win both an allowance on the grass at Gulfstream and the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) on the poly at Turfway.  In a competitive race, GO NONI GO runs over and over again many of her foes do at their best, and that consistency makes her appealing.  The humans also appeal: she hails from the barn of strong turf trainer Mike Maker, and top local rider Jose Valdivia takes the call.  GO NONI GO looks the one to beat.

COLONIA makes her first start in the United States.  She comes out for trainer Graham Motion, a winner 24% of the time with horses shipping into the country.  The question is the grass: COLONIA has three good starts over all-weather at Deauville and Chantilly, but two well-beaten finishes on grass.  However, both the grass starts were over heavy going -- and she will get something firmer here. COLONIA has enough workouts to have gotten some fitness after the ship and she has experience running well in large fields like the one she'll face here.  With Joe Bravo in the irons, she looks ready to put her best foot forward.

BET SHE WINS has yet to run back to her tour de force performance on the polytrack in the Arlington-Washington Futurity last fall.  But, she showed some solid turf ability before that polytrack try, in the first two races of her career.  Though she has been beaten at short prices in her first two races of the year, the outings weren't bad.  They were both against tough older horses: her first race of the year had her third behind next-out Grade 3 winner Princess La Quinta (a leading contender in Saturday's Arlington Matron), and the second had her a bit closer to the pace than she perhaps wants to be early, while Babybluesbdancing toyed with the field on the front end.  Here, BET SHE WINS faces only her own age group and should get enough speed behind her to revert to a late-running style.  Third off the lay, we may see her best.

Selection:

#2 GO NONI GO (7/2)

#5 COLONIA (5/1)

#4 BET SHE WINS (20/1)

Longshot:  Despite finishing a distant third in a state-bred stakes last-out, #9 HAYWORTH (20/1) steps up into this open sophomore fillies' stakes.  Yet, there's one key difference that gives her a chance to improv: the surface.  The Purple Violet Stakes was on the polytrack; she didn't run terribly, but she was outkicked.  However, HAYWORTH's turf form from earlier this year -- particularly on firm ground -- is better.  If HAYWORTH can muster the kind of late rally she found on the Louisiana Derby undercard when she won a maiden special weight turf route, she could have a say in this late.  It is also a positive that HAYWORTH has had a bit more time to settle in at Arlington.  Based on the worktab, HAYWORTH shipped to Arlington from Churchill right before the Purple Violet.  Now she has had some time to settle into her new barn, she has had a maintenance work since that last race, and she gets new trainer Jim Gulick's "A" rider, Carlos Marquez.  At a price, she can surprise.

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