OLDSMAR, FL – Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and Gary Aisquith’s Fourstar Crook commenced a strong rally down the length of the stretch to nail Proctor’s Ledge at the wire and win Saturday’s Grade 2, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

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Breaking from post 3 under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Fourstar Crook settled off the pace along the inside early while Dynatail led through splits of :24.26, :49.45, and 1:13.14. Commencing her bid through the far turn, Fourstar Crook hit the top of the stretch still 3 1/2 lengths off of newly-in-the-lead Proctor’s Ledge but under a full drive. Surging late along the outside of Proctor’s Ledge (ridden by Irad’s brother, Jose), Fourstar Crook was able to get up just in time, hitting the wire by a head in a final time of 1:48.43 for the 9-furlong turf event.

“She broke so good, and I just stayed on the rail to save all the ground I could because I knew I had to have a good trip to beat this field,” said Ortiz, Jr. “She is getting better and better every time. I just saved ground, and when I tipped her out, she gave me a good kick in the end. When we got to the 1/8-pole, I didn’t know if we were going to get there, but I just kept riding my horse hard, and she got the job done.”

La Coronel‘s inside trip throughout wasn’t enough to overcome the top two and she finished 3/4 of a length behind in third and a nose past Daddys Lil Darling. Fifth went to the post-time favorite Off Limits, with Tricky EscapeBonitaLovely BernadetteLovely Loyree, and Dynatail completing the order of finish.

Credit: SV Photography

Fourstar Crook’s win was her 10th in 15 career starts and second career graded score, following last year’s Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes at Laurel Park. The 6-year-old daughter of Freud now has career earnings of $813,166 for trainer Chad Brown.

“She prefers firm turf, so I thought that was a good effort,” Brown said. “She’s a good mare and very consistent. She ran terrific today.”

Fourstar Crook returned $9.80 to win, $5.40 to place, and $3.80 to show. Proctor’s Ledge brought back $7.80 to place and $5.20 to show, while La Coronel paid $3.60 to show.

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