Heart Stealer became Speightstown's 11th graded stakes winner of 2013 on Saturday, with a come-from-behind victory in the $100,000 Sugar Swirl S. (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park.
The Peachtree Stable colorbearer is Speightstown's 24th stakes winner of the year, ranking him co-first among all North American stallions. After a remarkable 2012 that saw Speightstown finish as the nation's third-leading sire, the WinStar stallion has bettered his record this year, battling for the top spot all season long. Speightstown currently ranks second by progeny earnings, with just over $11 million.
After settling in fifth behind front-running R Free Roll, Heart Stealer began to make up ground around the turn, when Javier Castellano sent the chestnut sophomore between horses. Subsequently swinging wide, Heart Stealer proved a determined winner, getting up by a neck over the pacesetter, with Munning's Sister, another Speightstown filly, just another neck back in third.
“I was very concerned. She was back in fifth. It takes her a little while. Seven eighths is perfect for her, so (the six-furlong distance) was my concern,” winning trainer Marty Wolfson said. “But she’d been training well.”
“She tried to run with that filly (R Free Roll) last time. She doesn’t need to do that. When she came to me, she was very rank. Now you can take her back,” Wolfson said. “At the eighth-pole, I didn’t know if she would get there, but once she leveled out the last 20 yards, I thought she’d get up. But it’s a little too short for her.”
“It was a beautiful race. There was a lot of speed in the race. We discussed it before the race and we had a plan. We thought there was a lot of speed in the race, and she doesn’t have to be on the lead. The way the race unfolds is going to help us,” Castellano said. “Marty gave the green light and gave me the confidence to ride the horse off the pace a little bit, and it paid off. I know it was kind of close, but when I asked her she responded so well in the last part.”
Heart Stealer, who had won her first race for Wolfson by 10 ½ lengths in a 6 ½-furlong allowance at Gulfstream on Oct. 6, earned $60,000 for her third win in 10 starts. She now has earned $141,180.
Bred in Kentucky by Fairlawn Farm, Heart Stealer is out of the two-time stakes winner Saratoga Humor. Peachtree principal John Fort bought the filly for $300,000 out of the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling sale.