Durocell signals Classic aspirations
Filly makes one move to win Hotline Stakes
Bebeto Harvey guides Durocell back to the winners' enclosure after the filly's victory in the Hotline Stakes feature contest. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

Trainer Patrick Fong says based on Durocell's second-place finish behind Roulette Boss over 7½ furlongs (1,500m) on February 26, 2023, he was confident his chestnut filly would have got the job done in the Hotline Stakes feature on Saturday (March 11, 2023).

The Hotline Stakes, named after the magnificent filly HotLine, is considered one of the major prep races for the upcoming Classic series of races and was the first stop on the "Road to the Triple Crown".

Ridden by the capable Bebeto Harvey, Durocell made one move to beat favourite Royal Ash by three quarters of a length in the Restricted Allowance II contest for native-bred three-year-old fillies over six furlongs (1,200m).

"Well, the race before this [Hotline Stakes] was more of a warm-up for her, and based on that run, where she was beaten by just a length and a quarter over a longer distance, I knew she had a shot of winning here," Fong told The Supreme Racing Guide.

"Durocell was up in the lead for most of the way before losing out close to home. Now, cutting back and a furlong and a half shorter, she had every chance of winning, and the confidence was there. She is a very nice horse, and I expect her to improve as she goes along," he continued.

Durocell broke off well at the start of the race and immediately took control ahead of Acknowledgeme (Youville Pinnock). Going into the half-mile (800m) turn, Durocell upped the tempo a bit ahead of Speedie Hare (Shavon Townsend), who had made a brave move circling Acknowledgeme and Royal Ash (Tevin Foster).

With no real challengers to contest her entering the stretch, Durocell continued to show the way, and although she was shortening a bit inside the final quarters, the chestnut filly had already done enough and held on for the win in the end.

Royal Ash, who was making her seasonal debut after a 133-day break, lost no marks in defeat as she was outdone by a better horse on the day. All For Love (Dane Dawkins) finished in third place with a final time of 1:15.0.

"I was a bit worried at the half-furlong pole when Royal Ash came forward, but I had a good jockey riding Durocell, and he [Bebeto Harvey] did a good job, and I am grateful for the win. Again, she is a nice horse who is going places. It was an improved effort from her as well in the sense that she broke her maiden at this distance in a time of 1:15.3 and now she won in 1:15.0, and some little improvement is there," Fong said.

BY RUDDY ALLEN Observer staff reporter

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