Raymond Mamone's Imperial Hint was very game late in Friday's Grade 2 True North Stakes, fending off a late run from Whitmore to win by a neck on the wire. The 5-year-old son of Imperialism was sent to the post as the 8-5 favorite under Javier Castellano. Trained by Luis Carvajal, Imperial Hint covered 6 1/2 furlongs over Belmont Park's fast main track in 1:15.02, earning his 10th career victory.
“He's a really fast horse,” said Carvajal. “Javier won the [Grade 3] Smile [Sprint at Gulfstream Park] and he took him back a little bit. This morning when I talked to Javier, he said I think I want to take him back let him relax a little bit. Javier is a professional. He rode him perfect. Everything went perfect, to plan.”
As expected, Recruiting Ready was very quick from his inside post position, going straight to the lead. Bobby Abu Dhabi was about a length behind him, while Imperial Hint and Westwood moved in a joint third position. Always Sunshine and Whitmore brought up the rear of the compact field.
In the far turn, Westwood appeared to bear out suddenly, affecting the path of Always Sunshine; he was pulled up and vanned off at the top of the stretch.
Imperial Hint got a clear run through at the rail, and swung out three-wide nearing the quarter pole to take on Bobby Abu Dhabi. Recruiting Ready dropped back at the head of the lane just as Whitmore found clear racing room.
Bobby Abu Dhabi dropped back a half-length as Imperial Hint took command in mid-stretch, but Whitmore was gaining momentum along the center of the track. Castellano caught sight of his rival over his right shoulder and encouraged Imperial Hint to dig in; the pair held off Whitmore by a neck at the wire. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Bobby Abu Dhabi in third.
“It worked out perfect,” Castellano said. “The two horses went to the lead and there were very fast fractions. It worked out great, it was a perfect trip. That's what I was looking for today. Usually, I feel like this horse is always on the lead, and the last sixteenth, he's always – eh, but today it worked out great. I asked him and he broke again. He's a nice horse.”
Bred in Florida by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds, Imperial Hint is out of the Mamone-bred winner Royal Hint, by Lahint. The horse won his first two starts at Tampa Bay Downs, then found success on the Mid-Atlantic circuit at Parx and Laurel Park. Though Imperial Hint was an uninspired sixth in his last start in the slop for the Churchill Downs Sprint, he rebounded successfully in the True North to run his record to 10 wins from 16 career starts, and earnings of over $1 million.
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