Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition

Hilltop lures promising cast

- By Dan Illman

BALTIMORE – Breath Away’s late burst of speed in Gulfstream Park’s Sanibel Island on April 1 was, shall we say, breathtaki­ng.

At Pimlico on Friday, Breath Away looks to add another stakes victory to her record when she starts as the likely favorite in the $100,000 Hilltop for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf.

Bred in England by Highgate Stud, Breath Away sold for approximat­ely $328,000 as a yearling and was shipped to the United States to learn her lessons under trainer Christophe Clement.

A debut winner of a 7 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on Jan. 8 at Gulfstream, she missed by a nose when second in a first-level allowance over Tapeta on Feb. 12.

Then came the Sanibel Island and Breath Away’s comingout party. Last with a quartermil­e to race, she split horses, then flew home to win by 2 1/2 lengths.

“It was a strong performanc­e,” Clement said. “She’s trained well at Belmont Park, and I’m excited to see her back.”

Breath Away has broken slowly in her races, but Clement isn’t concerned about her rail post in the Hilltop.

“I’m always okay with the inside on the turf,” Clement said.

Trainer Chad Brown entered Aspray and Up and Down. Aspray won her debut in an offturf race on Jan. 14 at Tampa Bay Downs, then notched a first-level allowance on grass there March 22.

“A mile might be a little sharp for her,” Brown said. “She’s got a nice kick. Down the road, you’ll see this filly stretch out and handle nine furlongs, maybe farther. If the pace is good enough, she could close into contention near the wire going a mile.”

Up and Down raced once at 2, finishing fourth in a maiden special weight sprinting on turf at Saratoga. Brown said she got sick with a bad lung infection that forced her to miss the remainder of the year.

In her seasonal debut on April 19 at Keeneland, Up and Down rallied strongly to win a maiden special weight at one mile on turf.

Brown noted that Up and Down is the “sharper of the two and might have a quicker turn of foot.”

After Eight debuted in a dirt sprint at Delaware last summer before going to the sidelines for almost seven months. Trainer Arnaud Delacour mentioned that she “needed to fill out.”

She returned with a flourish, wiring a maiden special weight field at Keeneland in her turf and route debut on April 23.

Delacour believes After Eight can sit off another horse, but is a bit concerned about the presence of Well Into, recently a pace-prompting fourth in the Grade 2 Appalachia­n at Keeneland.

“We might be pressured, but she looks like one of the speeds,” Delacour said.

Aunt Shirley adds Lasix after finishing fifth in the Sanibel Island. Thirty Thou Kelvin nipped Breath Away on synthetic before placing third in Turfway’s Bourbonett­e Oaks. Ice Cube Baby, Lil Spinner, Hang the Moon, Miss New York, and Majestic Creed complete the field.

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