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BALTIMORE, MD – LNJ Foxwoods’ homebred Dogtag showed no signs of rust from the nearly eight-month layoff, sweeping to the lead at the top of the stretch and then digging in gamely to fend off her stablemate Nova Sol to win Friday’s $100,000 Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Breaking from post 5 under Javier Castellano as the 3/1 co-second choice, Dogtag was shuffled to the back early on while Souper Escape posted opening fractions of :23.32 and :47.53. Fashion Faux Pas took command midway through the far turn and hit the top of the stretch in the clear, but the two Chad Brown trainees were showing good energy from the rear. Dogtag got the first jump on the leader and had more than enough left in the tank to hold off the 2/1 favorite Nova Sol in the stretch run.
Under a hand ride late, Dogtag crossed 1 3/4 lengths ahead in a final time of 1:36.71 for the mile-long event over the good turf course.
“I’m very fortunate to ride some of the best horses in the country and have all the top trainers in the country give me an opportunity to ride these horses,” said Castellano, who won his fourth straight on the day following an allowance race, the Skipat Stakes, and the Miss Preakness Stakes (G3), the latter for LNJ Foxwoods. “You want to prepare mentally, physically. You want to do good, perform. And thank God everything is falling into right direction. I won with my first four horses. I hope it continues. I like my horse (Point of Honor) in the Black Eyed Susan (G2) and I’m looking forward to the Preakness (aboard Warrior’s Charge).”
Nova Sol was well-clear of Fashion Faux Pas by 2 3/4 lengths to give Brown the exacta. Orra Moor looked like a threat at one point, but running wide in both turns took its toll and the filly tired to fourth. Makeme Dream nosed out Ebullient for fifth, while Cover Photo nosed out Who U Gonna Call for seventh. Introduced and a spent Souper Scape completed the order of finish.
Her Royal Highness acted up in the gate and was a late vet scratch, while Be Nimble, Primela, and Venetian Princess were all trainer scratches.
Dogtag’s win was her first since breaking her maiden in the $100,000 P. G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga last summer and improved her overall record to 4-2-0-1. The 3-year-old daughter of War Front increased her lifetime earnings mark to $137,200.
“I’m really happy to have Dogtag back in the winners’ circle,” said Jamie Roth, managing partner of LNJ Foxwoods. “She had some time off and we skipped the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Fillies Turf). It wasn’t a matter of talent or class; I don’t think she liked the yielding ground. I was watching the race from a weird spot so I wasn’t sure when she had it won. I was just rooting for the finish line.”
Dogtag returned $8.20 to win, $4.40 to place, and $3.20 to show. Nova Sol brought back $4 to place and $3 to show, while Fashion Faux Pas paid $4.20 to show.
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