Churchill Downs stakes recap (Coady Photography photo of Hidden Connection’s big victory under Reylu Gutierrez in Saturday night’s $300,000, Grade 3 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021) – Hidden Brook Farm’s Hidden Connection reaffirmed that her flashy 7 ½-length debut win at Colonial Downs wasn’t a fluke as she rolled to a 9 ½ length victory over Mama Rina in Saturday night’s 53rd running of the $300,000 Pocahontas (Grade III) for 2-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Bret Calhoun, Hidden Connection ran 1 1/16 miles in a stakes record 1:43.78 to give jockey Reylu Gutierrez his first career Churchill Downs win.
Hidden Connection, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Connect out of the Awesome Again mare C J’s Gal, banked $177,525 for the win and guaranteed herself a starting spot in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) on Nov. 5 at Del Mar. The Pocahontas is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Juvenile Fillies Challenge Division, which means the winner will also will have her entry fees and a travel allowance paid by Breeders’ Cup.
Hidden Connection also is the early points-leader on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks after collecting 10 points. The Pocahontas was the first of 30 qualifying races to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) to be run next May, and points were awarded to the Top 4 finishers on a 10-4-2-1 scale.
Breaking from post No. 9 in the field of 10 two-year-old Hidden Connection sat just off the right hip of leader Lemieux, who set fractions of :24.26, :48.62 and 1:13.27. With three furlongs to run, Hidden Connection dragged herself to the lead, which rapidly widened from the final three-sixteenths of a mile to the wire.
“It is incredibly special to get my first win at Churchill Downs for these great people, in front of this amazing crowd and aboard this filly,” Gutierrez said. “She’s is unbelievable. Yesterday, Florent Geroux was talking to me in the jocks room about how to ride this track. He said sometimes in the turns you want to wait a little longer than usual. So, I waited as long as I could in the turn and she just drew away. That was unbelievable. She was the first horse I worked this meet at Churchill Downs. Now, I’ll be right back at that barn tomorrow morning at 5:30 for more workers.”
Hidden Connection (2-2-0-0—$207,525) paid $5.60, $4 and $3.20 as the 9-5 favorite. Mama Rina, who rallied to get second by a neck under Brian Hernandez Jr., returned $21.40 and $7.80 at odds of 30-1. Goddess of Fire, with Javier Castellano up, paid $4.20 to show.
Code for Success was another length back in fourth. The order of finish was completed by Majestic d’Oro, Ontheonesandtwos, Miss Chamita, Kneesnhips, Maxine Machine and Lemieux. Joyrunner was scratched in the paddock.
The winner was bred by St. Simon Place.
Hidden Connection is among the first-crop of 2-year-olds from her sire Connect. She was purchased at the 2021 OBS June Horses of Racing Age Sale for $85,000.
“She was working at Keeneland this spring before we went to Colonial,” Calhoun said. “When she was working there I thought she could be special. Then we went to Colonial and she won so impressively on debut. She didn’t have as much experience as some of the horses in this race but she backed up that win very well. If she comes out of things OK you’d have to think she’s on to the Breeders’ Cup.”