Hilly's Halo to end year on high
GARY Subratie's HILLY'S HALO, whose win streak was snapped by WITHOUT EXCEPTION when going for five straight wins in the Coca Cola Invitational Mile on Superstakes Day, November 10, can be given the benefit of the doubt in Saturday's seven-furlong Gladiator Trophy, despite sparse exercise reports.
After giving away her chances at the start in her first five races, the three-year-old, United States-bred filly went on a four-race win streak, including what was, up to August 26, the fastest seven-furlong recorded for the season, 1:24.0, quicker than SHE'S A MANEATER's 1:24.3 in the Eros Trophy, before WILL IN CHARGE posted 1:23.1 in the Gold Cup.
However, a near three-month break interrupted HILLY'S HALO's march to the top after her August 26 run, not returning to the races until Superstakes Day, working smartly for the Invitational Mile, but up two classes off the lay-up.
After shaking loose of LIGHTNING LILY approaching the half-mile, HILLY'S HALO looked set to make it five-in-a-row, turning for home a length clear, but was surprisingly overhauled by WITHOUT EXCEPTION, who she had beaten by a dozen lengths in June, clocking 1:10.4 for six furlongs.
Whatever it was that had caused HILLY'S HALO to be away for almost three months, forcing her to miss October's Gold Cup, could have been a factor in her shock loss, though she had looked pretty good at exercise, working almost every four days, three in some instances - possibly overload in an attempt to win the Invitational Mile, a win-and-you're-in for the $13.9 million Diamond Mile.
Though HILLY'S HALO has not worked anywhere close to her summer form for her return, it could be that Subratie has taken her off the boil, opting for his signature training method, just enough to get the job done, the only notable gallop being seven furlongs in 1:33.0, the last five in 1:03.0.
Having already shown what she is capable of at middle distances, Subratie has apparently decided there's no need to floor the pedal at exercise, especially down to carry 110lb. However, he will fit the filly with a tongue tie for the first time as she takes on ANOTHER VIGOROUS, who looked really awesome when dismissing overnight allowance company at seven furlongs on Diamond Mile Day, December 1.
Expect a cracking headline with ANOTHER VIGOROUS, MR UNIVERSE and PATRIARCH, three of the quickest horses in training, mixing it up down the backstretch, a pace which should cause the speed to collapse.
HILLY'S HALO is preferred among the middle-distance runners such as ANOTHER BULLET, SARATOGA SIGHT, FAYROUZ and UNCLE FRANK, whose Anthony Nunes and Wayne DaCosta, respectively, deliberately have speedsters in the event as they wage all-out war for the trainers' title.
Reigning champion DaCosta starts the day in the driver's seat for an 18th overall and 13th consecutive title, sitting on a $1,577,600 lead, according to stats released by Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited on Thursday.
Nunes, at best, could possibly land four events - BRUCE WAYNE, TOONA CILIATA, ORPHEUS and ADONIS. Meanwhile, DaCosta has a three-timer to steady his ship - UNBREAKABLE, STRANGER DANGER and PURE HEART with SUPERTRONICS being a live threat to Nunes' Bruce Wayne.