TAMPA, FL – Running closer to the pace then she often has in the past proved to be the difference-maker for Rymska, who waited patiently for room before scooting through and drawing off late to win Saturday’s Hillsborough Stakes (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Breaking cleanly from post 7 as the 8/5 favorite under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Rymska was able to cross over for a ground-saving trip from third. Up front, Hawksmoor was let loose and allowed to post unpressured fractions of :25.13, :49.74, and 1:13.55 in her final career start. Ranging up to the pacesetter as the field hit the top of the stretch, Rymska was forced to wait for room due to Phantom Opening running along her outside. Once that foe began to weaken, Rymska tipped off the rail and found a new gear, driving past Hawksmoor with relative ease. Continuing to run briskly away from the field, the Chad Brown trainee crossed with a 2-length advantage in a final time of 1:49.18 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the firm turf course.
“My horse broke really well and I let her be forwardly placed early,” said Ortiz, Jr. “I thought (Phantom Opening) was one of the horses I had to beat, so I just tried to follow her because I knew she was going to take us a long way, and when we got to the stretch, I thought I would pick them up. Everything worked out perfect. I had plenty of horse when I asked her. Chad did a great job with her and she was ready. I rode her with confidence and just waited until it was time, and when I asked her, she responded.”
While no match for the winner, Hawksmoor fought gamely to hold off Onthemoonagain by a nose to finish second in her final career start. The multiple graded stakes-winning mare has a date with Kitten’s Joy, a successful sire especially with turf offspring.
“She ran her race and it’s a great way to finish her career,” said Hawksmoor’s trainer Arnaud Delacour. “(Rymska) had beaten us once last year, so (the result) is kind of logical. She gave it her best shot and ran relaxed and finished very well.”
Phantom Opening faded to fourth, a 1/2-length off of the board. Viva Vegas took fifth over Get Explicit, who nosed out Na Pali Spirit for sixth. Peach of a Gal, Goodyearforroses, and Streetwithnoname completed the order of finish.
Rymska’s win was her fourth in a graded stakes event following a trio of G3 scores in the past two years and improved her overall record to 13-7-3-1. The French-bred 5-year-old daughter of Le Havre, owned in partnership by Madaket Stables, Tom Coleman, Team Hanley, and Elayne Stables, has earned $638,139 throughout her international career.
“Irad rode a beautiful race,” Brown said. “She got a beautiful trip and she responded well. She’s been laying a little closer her last couple of starts, which I like to see, and she finished great.”
Rymska returned $5.20 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Hawksmoor brought back $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show, while Onthemoonagain paid $3 to show.