Wins, especially in Grade 1 sprints, don’t usually come as easy as Imperial Hint‘s did in Saturday’s $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) at Saratoga.
Under a hammerlock by jockey Javier Castellano as he made a sweeping four-wide bid for the lead entering the stretch, Imperial Hint made the front under the mildest of hand urging and won in a virtual canter, completing six furlongs in 1:08.98 over a fast track.
“It basically was an easy ride,” Castellano said. “I have to give all the credit to the trainer, Luis Carvajal, for the way he has been training to hold him and taking a lot of patience with the horse and picking the right place for the horse. I basically enjoyed the ride with the horse and I think lately the horse is more relaxed.”
The 4-5 favorite in a field of seven, Imperial Hint crossed the wire 3 3/4 lengths in front of Warrior’s Reward and returned $3.60 for owner Raymond Mamone and trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. Longshot Sweetontheladies finished third and was followed by Mr. Crow, Switzerland (who set a challenged pace of :21.70 and :44.39), Petrov, and Done Deal.
This was the eighth career stakes win for Imperial Hint and fourth in graded company following last year’s editions of the General George (G3) and Smile Sprint (G3), and a game, last-out victory by a neck in the June 8 True North (G2) at Belmont Park.
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. He aims to return to the Louisville track in November for the TwinSpires.com Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), in which he finished second to Roy H by one length last year. His record now stands at 17-11-2-0, $1,210,155.
Bred by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds, Imperial Hint is by Imperialism and out of Royal Hint, by Lahint.