BALTIMORE, MD – Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Souper Striking overcame an awkward start to wire the field and secure her first career stakes score in Friday’s $100,000 Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Bobbling out of post 2 as the 7-5 favorite under local rider Julian Pimentel, Souper Striking quickly recovered and established command, setting slow splits of :26.18, :53.40, and 1:22.60 for the opening 3/4 of a mile. Steadily increasing her lead through the far turn, Souper Striking hit the top of the stretch well ahead of her foes. The Michael Trombetta trainee was kept to task through the wire, crossing by 6 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:51.72 for the mile-long event over soft turf.
“She was going pretty comfortable,” Pimentel said. “She seems to enjoy that surface, so it worked out well for us. Nobody came to pressure us or anything.”
Secret Message was able to get up in the stretch for second ahead of Peach of a Gal, while Stormologist took fourth past Judge Lee. Checking in last came Wendy Peffercorn, while Fairy Link, Firth, Jehozacat, Madame X., and Thewayiam were all scratched due to track conditions.
Souper Striking’s score was her third win in her last four starts, with her lone loss a ninth-place dud in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks last out. The 3-year-old daughter of Brilliant Speed increased her record to 9-3-1-3 with career earnings of $117,100.
“You don’t know how these horses are going to handle this kind of going,” Trombetta said. “There is no way to practice for it. You just hope that good things happen and for her it did. She was able to keep on getting it. She did well.”
Souper Striking returned $4.80 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.10 to show. Secret Message brought back $3.40 to place and $2.40 to show, while Peach of a Gal paid $2.40 to show.