ELMONT, NY – Hog Creek Hustle did like his name and hustled late to win Saturday’s $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes Presented by Mohegan Sun (G1) at Belmont Park. This was the third career win and first career stakes win for Hog Creek Hustle who had been winless in his last five starts.
Strike Silver shot right out to the front and quickly claimed the early lead. Complexity was second best followed by Landeskog and Wendell Fong. Honest Mischief stumbled at the start and but was also hurried out to the front and eventually settled in behind Wendell Fong who moved up and sat off of the leader Strike Silver as they set early fractions of :21.92 and :44.56. As they made their way into the stretch, Hog Creek Hustle flew wide around the turn and shot right to the lead. Nitrous also made a nice late run but it wasn’t enough to keep up with Hog Creek Hustle as he was forced to settle for second. Borracho got up for third and Strike Silver was fourth.
There was a stewards inquiry into the stretch run of Hog Creek Hustle but it was concluded that no change was necessary.
“He didn’t have any speed. I let him fall back and run his own race. When it was time to go I just went around everybody to where he could get some clean running room,” said jockey Corey Lanerie. “When I turned for home and tried to switch leads, I had no intention of coming over on [Mind Control], but he does that when you try to grab the right rein, he tries to run away from it. I was lucky that they left him up because he was the best horse, but he needs to learn how to stay straight.
Hog Creek Hustle, a three-year-old son of Overanalyze, was bred in New by Sargus & Sandra Sexton & Silver Fern Farm, LLC. He is owned by Something Special Racing and trained by Vickey Foley.
“I was nervous during the inquiry. We’re from Kentucky and came to the Big Apple, so I was a little nervous. It went our way and I think they [stewards] did the right thing,” trainer Vickey Foley said. “This is my first Grade 1 win, and what a thrill. He was tough in the paddock, which he always is, and then with the inquiry, it was stressful. But I knew there would be blistering speed in this race, and I knew that’s what we needed. We were going for and hoping for the speed coming back to us. That’s why we thought we’d be perfect in this race and why we came. Corey gave him a good ride, too.”
Hog Creek Hustle returned $39.80 to win, $15.20 to place, and $8.10 to show. Nitrous brought back $16.00 to place and $8.90 to show, while Borracho paid $8.70 to show.