HUCHESON STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 2 | 7 FURLONGS
Joseph Bucci's Honorable Dillon made his stakes debut a winning one with a workmanlike score under Joe Rocco Jr. in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park.
Enduring an outside stalking trip as longshot Singanothersong ripped through fractions of :22 and :44 3/5, Honorable Dillon gradually improved his position around the turn and into the stretch. Only a half-length behind Undrafted with a furlong remaining, the gray colt edged clear of that foe in the final sixteenth and crossed the wire a half-length in front of the fast-closing 8-5 favorite Forty Tales. Honorable Dillon completed seven furlongs in 1:22 2/5 over a fast track and paid $7.20, $3.40 and $2.60 as the 5-2 second choice.
"We broke well, most of the speed was inside of me and we settled outside of them nicely," Rocco said. "They went quick enough for him to relax early on and when I asked him to pick it up he did. I had plenty of horse throughout. The plan was to stalk the speed and not get too far back, not get in a speed duel and it worked out how we wanted."
"He was a little green and was on the wrong lead in the stretch, but he gutted it out. He's determined. He's a nice horse," winning trainer Eddie Kenneally said.
Forty Tales, who met defeat for the first time in three starts, rallied out in the middle of the track and nosed out Undrafted for the place. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Merit Man. Completing the order of finish were Weekend Hideaway, Singanothersong, Pataky Kid and Really Sharp.
Scratched from the Hutcheson were Falling Sky, who instead ran in and won Saturday's Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, and Little Distorted.
Third in his Saratoga debut going six furlongs last July, Honorable Dillon rebounded to break his maiden at the same venue on August 25. In that six-furlong dash he defeated the highly-rated Delhomme, who later finished a close third in the Grade 2 Remsen, by 1 3/4 lengths. Honorable Dillon did not see action again until January 4, where he finished second by three parts of a length to Singanothersong in a Gulfstream allowance. He now boasts a line of 4-2-1-1, $155,570.
"We'll talk with the owner and come up with a plan. It's a shame that these Grade 2 stakes aren't getting any points for the Kentucky Derby. I think it's wrong," Kenneally added.
"We may try [to stretch him out]. We'd like to try at some point. He's bred to go farther than seven eighths of a mile. Can he do it? We'll find out when we try. The Swale [on March 2] is a definite possibility."
Honorable Dillon was bred in Kentucky by Robert Trussell Jr. and was a $100,000 Fasig-Tipton March two-year-old in training purchase. The son of Tapit was produced by the stakes-placed Shy Tom mare Shy Greeting, who has also reared Argentinean champion filly Forty Greeta and the stakes-placed Liquidity Trap. Forty Greeta is herself the dam of stakes winner Fort Hughes.
Honorable Dillon's third dam was the multiple Argentinean Group 1 winner Gioconda, who produced the Grade 2-winning Good Command. Gioconda was also the second dam of Group 1 winner Impression.