Striking with Passion

Might took most of the prerace support for theDogwood Stakes (gr.3) on the strength of her two consecutive wins and the fact that she is the full sister to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr.1) winner and Horse of the Year finalist, Blame. But when it came time to put ability and reputation to the test just one filly’s potential survived the trip unscathed.
Salty Strike entered the Dogwood Stakes empty-handed in two stakes tries and only a maiden and allowance win to her credit. She broke her maiden at first asking before finishing third to Just Louise in the Debutante Stakes (gr.3) as a juvenile last year. She finished second in her 2011 debut in a Gulfstream Park allowance race before testing deeper waters in the Honeybee Stakes (gr.3) and finishing a distant fourth behind Joyful Victory. Given a month she returned on Keeneland’s all weather track and finished an uninspiring sixth against allowance company and was returned to the dirt in her next try. On May 20th at Churchill Downs Salty Strike absolutely manhandled a field of five other three-year-old fillies in a seven furlong optional allowance claiming race and cruised home by seven lengths, much the best.
In the Dogwood Stakes, Salty Strike broke alertly from the gates and settled in just behind Fantasy of Flight and Gran Lioness in third while Might took up the fourth spot, just a length and a half behind. After an opening quarter in :23.14 Fantasy of Flight led Gran Lioness by just one length but was slowly widening her lead while Salty Strike sat just behind Gran Lioness, under a tight hold by jockey Manoel Cruz. The half mile went in :46.09 with Fantasy of Flight’s lead now two lengths. Might had moved her way up to be a close fourth just off the flank of Salty Strike as the field entered the far turn.
Midway around the turn Salty Strike suddenly came to life and surged forward, closing the gap between her and Grand Lioness in a matter of strides and swiftly overtaking Fantasy of Flight to challenge for the lead. Bounding off the turn Salty Strike disposed of Fantasy of Flight, rushed to the fore and didn’t look back, winning by 3 ¾ lengths with just two taps of the whip.
Salty Strike seems to have turned things around for the best and could be headed for a promising summer campaign. Any horse related in some small way to Curlin is always able to capture my attention and as a half sister to Curlin Salty Strike has certainly captured my attention. Keep your eyes glued to this filly, you never know where she might strike next. The Test (gr.1) at Saratoga was mention by trainer Kenny McPeek as the filly’s next possible start, a race she would most likely meet leading sophomore filly Turbulent Descent.

[Salty Strike currently ranks #158 on the HRN's 3-year-old fillies ranking page; is it too low?]

Hilda’s Passion reestablished herself as the leading older female sprinter in the country when she dished out a solid thrashing to the Vagrancy Handicap (gr.2) on Saturday at Bemont Park, winning by 5 ¼ lengths in a brilliant time of 1:14.81, just missing the track record for 6 ½ furlongs.
Breaking from the gate Hilda’s Passion burst out of the gate and promptly stumbled, pitching forward slightly. She quickly righted herself and seized the lead without missing a beat. From there to the finish line it was just a matter of time and distance and she came through with flying colors on both counts. She ran the opening quarter :22.34 while jockey Javier Castellano keep her under a tight rein. Entering the far turn she continued to plow ahead, still full of run and well held, posting the half in a very quick :44.91. Striding off the turn Hilda’s Passion commanded a three length lead, now under an easy hand ride while Curlina, Tidal Pool and Streaker all gutted it out for the second spot. With just a wave of the whip Hilda’s Passion expanded her lead to more than five lengths crossing under the line while Curlina finished another four lengths ahead of Tidal Pool and Streaker who were separated by just a nose at the finish. Hilda’s Passion has now won three graded stakes his season and is making a strong case for divisional leadership.
Photo Courtesy of Coglianese Photos

 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mothers shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you its almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owners box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenerys owners box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 length win which made me feel like one of the worlds most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

Thats me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.

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