Reverting to the stalking tactics that had served him well at times in the past, Imperial Hint captured a formful renewal of the $240,000 True North (G2) at Belmont Park on Friday.
Allowing Recruiting Ready to set early fractions of :21.85 and :44.52 with Bobby Abu Dhabi in close pursuit, Imperial Hint settled 1 1/2 lengths behind the leader. Bidding outside new leader Bobby Abu Dhabi turning form home, Imperial Hint wore down that foe and fended off a late rally from Whitmore to win by a neck in a time of 1:15.02 for 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track.
“It worked out perfect,” jockey Javier Castellano said. “The two horses went to the lead and there were very fast fractions. It worked out great, it was a perfect trip.”
Owned by Raymond Mamone, trained by Luis Carvajal Jr., and ridden by Javier Castellano, Imperial Hint paid $5.40 as the 17-10 favorite. Whitmore, the 2-1 second choice, finished 1 1/2 lengths ahead of 5-2 third choice Bobby Abu Dhabi.
Always Sunshine and Recruiting Ready were next under the line, while Westwood was pulled up and vanned off after going wrong on the far turn. Joking and Limousine Liberal were scratched, the latter for Saturday’s Metropolitan H. (G1).
This was the seventh career stakes win for Imperial Hint and third in graded company following last year’s editions of the General George (G3) and Smile Sprint (G3). He wrapped up his campaign with a one-length loss to Roy H in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Del Mar.
“He’s a really fast horse,” Carvajal said. “Javier won the Smile and he took him back a little bit. This morning when I talked to Javier, he said I think I want to take him back let him relax a little bit.”
Prior to the True North, Imperial Hint had beaten an overmatched group in a Florida-bred stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, and then weakened to sixth in the May 5 Churchill Downs (G2), contested over seven furlongs on a sloppy track. His record now stands at 16-10-2-0, $1,017,655.
Bred by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds, Imperial Hint is by Imperialism and out of Royal Hint, by Lahint.