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HOT SPRINGS, AR – In the Pippin, Fox Hill Farm, Inc.’s Whoa Nellie, the 2/1 favorite, drew off to a 4 1/2-length victory over Special Reality.
Despite her name, the 4-year-old Orb filly was content to race behind the early leaders as Lady Suebee took the field through fractions of :22 4/5 and :46 2/5 for the first 1/2-mile. Whoa Nellie began to make her move five-wide entering the stretch and took off under a confident ride by Joe Rocco Jr. to win in a final time of 1:39 2/5 over a track upgraded to good. Cairenn finished third.
The winner improved her record to five wins from nine starts and has now earned $256,230. She returned $6.60, $4.20, $3.40.
Whoa Nellie will be pointed for the $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb. 17, trainer Larry Jones said.
Larry Jones, winning trainer, Whoa Nellie: “She’s been doing very well. You always wonder. Her only bad race came over this racetrack. I said last year, ‘Man, I hope it’s not that she doesn’t like the track.’ But she works lights out over it. I just don’t think the trainer had her fit enough last year when we ran her. I ran a short horse and didn’t realize it.”
Joe Rocco Jr., winning jockey, Whoa Nellie: “It worked out good. There was a lot of speed on paper it and developed in front of us, and it went really fast. My filly was there the whole time. A little wider than I wanted, but that’s how the field played out. That’s what we needed to do, and we had plenty for the ride home. She has a great name, the whole way I was saying ‘Whoa Nellie, Whoa Nellie.’”
Robertino Diodoro, trainer of second-place finisher Special Reality: “Little rough trip, but I thought she ran really well, especially the first time running a mile for us. Got a little tight on the first turn and kind of lost position a little bit. Going into the final turn, got into a little more traffic, just a little bit. She’s a big mare and just enough to take a little momentum away from her. But at the same time she ran a big race, I thought.”
Johnny Ortiz, trainer of third-place finisher Cairenn: “It was a very good effort by Cairenn. She had plenty of speed in front of her, so she was able to settle for Channing (Hill). Loved what he did. He put her in a very good position and started making an early move around the turn. We were hoping to run that 2 (Lady Suebee) down a little quicker, but the track was a little tiring here.”
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