Becomes Only Seventh Horse with Three Career Maryland Million Wins
BALTIMORE – It took just over 82 seconds for 4-year-old filly Hello Beautiful to race her way into Maryland Million history.
Madaket Stables, Albert Frassetto, Mark Parkinson, K-Mac Stables and Magic City Stables’ Hello Beautiful rolled to her second consecutive front-running victory in the $100,000 Distaff Saturday at Laurel Park, becoming just the seventh horse in event history with three Maryland Million wins.
The seven-furlong Distaff for fillies and mares 3 and older was among eight stakes and four starter stakes on the 36th Jim McKay Maryland Million program, ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state.
Hello Beautiful ($2.40) also won the 2019 Lassie as a 2-year-old among her eight career stakes victories and joins Ben’s Cat, Countus In, Docent, Eighttofasttocatch, Mz. Zill Bear and Hall of Fame mare Safely Kept in the exclusive three-win club. She was greeted with a large round of applause from fans as she returned to the winner’s circle.
“It’s so special, especially with her. It’s a tough game, and to have a filly like her she just kind of keeps you up there. She gives you confidence. She shows you that you can do it. She makes you want to wake up in the morning and do it all over again on the bad days,” winning trainer Brittany Russell said. “I have a barn full of horses because of her, and many clients because of her. She’s been so good to us.”
Favored at 1-5 in a field of six that included eight-time stakes winner Street Lute, a 3-year-old facing older horses, and Aug. 21 Miss Disco winner Malibu Beauty, Hello Beautiful broke alertly and quickly inherited the lead, going the first quarter-mile in 22.59 seconds with Malibu Beauty giving closest chase and Street Lute settled in third on the inside.
Jockey Jevian Toledo, subbing for the injured Sheldon Russell, Brittany Russell’s husband, had yet to move as Hello Beautiful rolled through a half-mile in 45.65 seconds. They drifted out to the two path once straightened for home when Toledo shook the reins and the daughter of Golden Lad steadily pulled clear of her rivals to win by 3 ½ lengths in 1:22.22.
Malibu Beauty nosed out Street Lute for second, followed by Coconut Cake, Whispering Pines and Street Lute’s stablemate Fille d’Esprit, a winner of three straight making her first start since Dec. 18.
“She’s a really nice horse. She’s just a special filly. You can do anything you want with her,” Toledo said. “She’s got the speed, so we used her speed to our advantage because the track is pretty fast today. When I asked her, she just took off in the stretch. She just put her head in front and she wouldn’t let them go by.”
Sheldon Russell had surgery last week on his right foot, injured in a pre-race spill Sept. 9 at Laurel. He joined his wife, who is expecting the couple’s second child, and members of the ownership group in the winner’s circle.
“He’s the one that made me all emotional. He was screaming like a crazy man in there,” Brittany Russell said. “I felt confident, and he kept going, ‘Turn her loose! Turn her loose!’ He and Toledo are tight, so Toledo picking up the mount is the next best thing.”
A $6,500 purchase in December 2018, Hello Beautiful earned her third straight win following the July 31 Alma North at historic Pimlico Race Course and Sept. 18 Weather Vane at Laurel, and 10th from 18 career starts, pushing her career bankroll near the $600,000 mark. She is 9-for-11 lifetime over Laurel’s main track.
“The way she bounced out of her last one, it didn’t seem like a hard effort for her. She just responds,” Russell said. “When we walk her over, she’s ready to go. She’s been touting herself.”