OCEANPORT, NJ – A second stab at stretching out made the difference for St. Elias Stable’s Hopeful Growth, who upset Saturday’s $200,000 Monmouth Oaks (G3) at Monmouth Park.
With Antonio Gallardo in the saddle, Hopeful Growth was an 11/1 longshot breaking from post 4 and saved ground just behind the front-runners while inside of Princess Cadey. Just ahead of them, the 7/5 favorite Lucrezia set a contested pace with Project Whiskey applied direct pressure.
Tipped out three-wide midway through the far turn, Hopeful Growth held command at the top of the stretch and drew off under mild urging. The Anthony Margotta, Jr., trainee was 4 lengths clear in a final time of 1:45.63 for the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route.
Project Whiskey was a definitive second ahead of Eve of War and Dream Marie. Completing the order of finish came Lucrezia, Market Rumor, Piece of My Heart, Princess Cadey, and Comical.
“I had a really good trip,” Gallardo said. “She’s a good horse and now she knows how to relax and sit behind horses. That’s why she won this. I had good position the whole way. I was close to the leaders. I had the favorite in front of me with Project Whiskey with her, and (Princess Cadey) was just outside us. I just waited to get clear. I was able to do that before the 1/4 pole. I knew she had a lot left and she responded.”
Hopeful Growth’s win was her second over the local strip, having broken her maiden on debut last June, and was a nice rebound after finishing fifth in the Delaware Oaks (G3) last time out. The 3-year-old Tapiture filly now carries a record of 5-3-1-0 with $183,240 earned.
“This was our bullseye target,” said Margotta, Jr. “I took the blinkers off her last 2 races so she would learn a little. I put them back on so she would focus more after she learned a little bit. She’s bred to go long and she has trained that way the whole time, so I knew she would go longer. She has always wanted to stretch out.”
Hopeful Growth returned $25.60 to win, $12 to place, and $7.20 to show. Project Whiskey brought back $7.60 to place and $4.20 to show, while Eve of War paid $7 to show.