Nicole H picked up
her third straight victory and first in a graded stakes with a facile score in
the Saturday’s Grade 2 Distaff Handicap for fillies and mares at Aqueduct
Freshened following a pair of stakes wins over the inner track in the
December 4 Garland of Roses Handicap and January 1 Interborough, Nicole H prompted
the pace three-wide in third as Wild News carved out an opening quarter mile in
23.90. Claiming the lead without being asked by jockey Channing Hill following
a half in 46.81, she drew away under minimal urging to prevail by 2 ½ lengths
over Wild News.
“She seemed like the best filly in
the race and I rode her that way and just tried to keep her happy,” said
Nicole H, the 4-5 favorite, returned $3.90
for a $2 win wager to her backers in the crowd 5,481 and completed seven
furlongs in 1:23.29.
“She just dragged him up there at
the three-eighths pole,” said Mike Hushion, who trains the 4-year-old for
GEM Racing. “I felt awfully good at that point. Everyone else was
driving, and she was just dragging him up. She was fresher than she usually is
in the paddock, but when the gates opened, that first quarter-mile, thankfully,
she got to settle the way you would have hoped the first time going
seven-eighths against these.”
Nicole H, who began her career competing
for trainer David Hofmans on artificial surfaces and turf in Southern
California, is now 4-1-0 in seven starts since being transferred
to Hushion and switched to conventional dirt. Overall, she is 5-5-2 from 15
starts, with the $90,000 winner’s share of the Distaff purse boosting her
career earnings to $279,344.
Bred in Kentucky by JMJ Racing Stables, Nicole H is a
4-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley. Plans for her next start will be determined
at a later date.
Kid Kate closed from last to finish third,
with Spacy Tracy and Qualia completing the order of finish.