Exotics plays for the 2022 Hillsborough Stakes

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

March 10th, 2022

One of the top undercard races on a huge day of action at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday is the $225,000 Hillsborough S. (G2). A total of nine fillies and mares will run 1 1/8 miles in the turf affair, with a pair from the barn of Chad Brown likely to be well-fancied at the windows. But I will key another contender on top in most of my exotics plays.

The Roger Attfield-conditioned #3 Lady Speightspeare was four-for-four to begin her career. She has since settled for minor awards in two straight, but I expect her to get back to her winning ways on Saturday. By Speightstown, the four-year-old lass comes off a runner-up performance at Tampa Bay when second-best in the recent Endeavour S. (G3).

Equipped with fine early speed, the Grade-1 winning filly draws well to use her gate presence to her advantage in a field without much opposing early pace. The chestnut Kentucky-bred will make her first try at nine panels and I expect her to take command early while establishing moderate early splits, prior to opening up a clear edge in early stretch. The price should be fair with regular pilot Emma-Jayne Wilson retaining the mount.

Chad Brown will saddle an imposing pair, including the unbeaten #5 Bleecker Street, the recent victress of the Endeavour. The gray by Quality Road has aced every test to date and still has additional room for improvement. The four-year-old possesses a fine turn of foot, and she will be doing her best work in the final furlong with Hector Diaz in the silks once again.

Irish stakes heroine #6 Rocky Sky was a non-factor in the stretch in her U.S. debut at Saratoga in the summer, but the Rock of Gibraltar four-year-old will show vast improvement in her first run at four. The Peter Brant color bearer has been training in strong fashion as of late, and she will be in the hunt inside the final furlong with Irad Ortiz taking the reins.

I will also use #7 Runaway Rumor in her seasonal bow for Jorge Abreu. The Flintshire filly had a solid three-year-old campaign, and she may lay fairly close to the pace while coming in fresh in this affair. The stakes-winning bay will be in the mix with her best performance under the guidance of Jose Ortiz.

Hillsborough Wagers

  • $1 superfecta 3 with 5, 6 with 5, 6, 7 with all ($24)
  • $2 trifecta key 3 with 5, 6, 7 ($12)
  • 50-cent superfecta box 3, 5, 6, 7 ($12)
  • $2 trifecta 5, 6 with 3 with 5, 6, 7 ($8)