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LOUISVILLE, KY – Bet down to 9/5 favoritism, Hidden Connection’s talent was clearly no secret and she proved it with a dominating score in Saturday’s $300,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs.
The Pocahontas is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Hidden Connection receiving an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar this November.
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Hidden Connection broke alertly from post 9 under Reylu Gutierrez and managed to clear over and run two-deep in the clubhouse turn, then tracked just behind early leader Lemieux through opening fractions of :24.26 and :48.62.
Ranging up to take command heading into the far turn, Hidden Connection came under fire from Majest d’Oro to her outside, but once she straightened for home, the Bret Calhoun trainee drew off powerfully in the stretch.
Extending her advantage with every step, Hidden Connection crossed 9 1/4 lengths much the best while completing the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route in stakes-record time of 1:43.78.
“It is incredibly special to get my first win at Churchill Downs for these great people, in front of this amazing crowd and aboard this filly,” Gutierrez said. “She’s is unbelievable. Yesterday, Florent Geroux was talking to me in the jocks room about how to ride this track. He said sometimes in the turns you want to wait a little longer than usual. So, I waited as long as I could in the turn and she just drew away. That was unbelievable. She was the first horse I worked this meet at Churchill Downs. Now, I’ll be right back at that barn tomorrow morning at 5:30 for more workers.”
Mama Rina rallied from off the pace and took second by a neck over Goddess of Fire, with Code for Success coming on late to take fourth by a 1/2-length over Majestic d’Oro.
“She ran a good race,” said Mama Rina’s jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. “I didn’t think they’d go that slow up front early, but she ran a good race.”
Ontheonesandtwos, Miss Chamita, Kneesnhips, Maxine Machine, and Lemieux completed the order of finish in the field of 2-year-old fillies.
Joyrunner was a veterinarian scratch after she reared in the paddock and fell; she was reportedly unharmed.
Hidden Connection’s win followed a similarly dominating victory in her career unveiling, a 5 1/2-furlong dirt sprint at Colonial Downs on August 17. The daughter of Connect, purchased for $85,000 earlier this year, has now earned $207,525 for co-owners Hidden Brook Farm and Black Type Thoroughbreds.
“She was working at Keeneland this spring before we went to Colonial,” Calhoun said. “When she was working there, I thought she could be special. Then we went to Colonial and she won so impressively on debut. She didn’t have as much experience as some of the horses in this race, but she backed up that win very well. If she comes out of things OK, you’d have to think she’s on to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Hidden Connection returned $5.60 to win, $4 to place, and $3.20 to show. Mama Rina brought back $21.40 to place and $7.80 to show. Goddess of Fire paid $4.20 to show.
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