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Hello Beautiful Dazzles in Maryland Million Distaff
LAUREL, MD – Hello Beautiful welcomed a return to action at Laurel Park Saturday, scoring a thoroughly dominating 11 1/4-length victory in the 100,000 Maryland Million Distaff.
The Distaff, a seven-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, was one of eight stakes and four starter stakes on the 35th Jim McKay Maryland Million program for offspring of stallions standing in Maryland.
Hello Beautiful, who is owned by Madaket Stables, Albert Frassetto, Mark Parkinson, K-Mac Stables and Magic City Stables, went to post as the 1-2 favorite in a field of nine on the strength of her past domination of Maryland-bred competition, including a victory in the 2019 Maryland Million Lassie.
After venturing out of town for her last two starts, including a sixth-place finish in the Sept. 5 Prioress (G2) at Saratoga, Hello Beautiful re-established her dominance at Laurel while running seven furlongs in a dazzling 1:21.84.
The Brittany Russell-trained 3-year-old daughter of Golden Lad broke alertly to take an early lead on the backstretch, only to receive a strong inside challenge by Limited View, who took a narrow lead into the far turn. Sheldon Russell, the trainer’s husband, was content to rate Hello Beautiful to the outside of the challenger before sending her to the lead on the turn into the homestretch.
Hello Beautiful powered away from her outmatched opponents without pressure to score by open lengths.
“It’s been a tough year for us, for sure. We tried a few things and she had some bad luck. It’s really satisfying to get her home today and have Sheldon back aboard. That helps a lot,” Brittany Russell said.
Hello Beautiful, who was named Maryland-bred champion juvenile filly last year after capturing the Maryland Million Lassie by 3 ¾ lengths and the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship by 11 ¾ lengths, had won only once in four prior starts this year. After coming off a seven-month layoff with an off-the-board finish in a turf sprint, Hello Beautiful regained her winning ways by 8 ¼ lengths in a Laurel allowance June 20. She was shipped out of town for her next two starts, finishing off-the-board in the Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park and the Prioress at Saratoga.
“Like Brittany says, she might be a horse for the course. She loves Laurel. She gives me some sort of feel here, and time-wise it’s shockingly good how fast she can run and keep going,” Sheldon Russell said. “I wanted to put her to the test today because the waters get deeper and let’s see what she really has. Ideally, I’ll leave it up to them to see where she goes but she gave me a dynamite performance today. It was great job by Brittany and her team. It was against older horses, too, so I just wanted to see what she’s got and she showed up today. Hopefully we can keep it going and win a big one with her somewhere down the line.”
Quiet Imagination closed to finish a never-threatening second, a length ahead of Le Weekend.