BALTIMORE –Wertheimer & Frere’s Grade 1-placed homebred Alda and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gianni Fittipaldi’s Mia Martini will line up with the chance to add to trainer Graham Motion’s roster of winners in Friday’s $100,000 Hilltop at Pimlico Race Course.
The 49th running of the one-mile Hilltop for 3-year-old fillies and 21st edition of the $100,000 The Very One for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting five furlongs comprise the turf stakes during a spectacular 14-race card on the eve of the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1), headlined by the 97th running of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan(G2) for 3-year-old fillies.
Other stakes on the program are the historic $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for 3-year-olds and up at the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles, $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) for 3-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs, and $150,000 Allaire du Pont (G3) for fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/8 miles.
First race post time is 11:30 a.m.
Motion won his first Hilltop with Silent Greeting in 1996. Based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., he followed up with Coup in 2012, Miss Temple City in 2015 and Happy Mesa in 2017. Last year he ran fourth and eighth, respectively, with Lucky Jingle and Shimmering.
Alda won two of her first three career starts, breaking her maiden second time out at Belmont Park and winning the 6 ½-furlong Catch a Glimpse over the Woodbine turf last summer. She returned to Canada to be second in the one-mile Natalma (G1) before finishing off the board in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Keeneland.
The daughter of multiple graded-stakes winning sprinter Munnings didn’t return until April 9 in Keeneland’s 5 ½-furlong Limestone Turf Sprint, where she ended up sixth by four lengths to multiple stakes winner Tobys Heart.
“It was probably a little quick for her that day. I thought I could get away with sprinting her one time, but I think this is what she wants to do,” Motion said. “She came to me as a 2-year-old and she’s been very consistent. It probably was a big step to go to the Breeders’ Cup off of those races but I thought she deserved a shot. It was coming sort of at the end of the year and she’d been running pretty consistently. I’d like to see her get back on track here. She’s a filly I’ve always thought a lot of.”
Mia Martina returns to the turf after a failed effort on dirt in the 1 1/8-mile Gazelle, where she was never in contention and was eased. Prior to that effort she had raced three times on grass, winning her first two starts before closing from last to be fourth, beaten less than four lengths, in the 1 1/16-mile Florida Oaks (G3) March 6 at Tampa Bay Downs.
“Eclipse bought her after her first start. We ran her on the dirt last time up at Aqueduct, which was just a put-a-line-through-it race. She clearly struggled with the dirt. We wanted to try it. She’s kind of bred for it, but she obviously doesn’t handle it as well,” Motion said. “I’ve been really happy with her coming up to this race. This is a logical spot for her to get her back on track. Nice filly, very straightforward.”