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Hot Stones wins G3 Bed o’ Roses, gives Irad Ortiz 5th winner on card

By Jon Forbes | 06/21/2014 06:58 PM ET
Irad Ortiz, Jr.
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese

Hot Stones prevailed by a nose in a lengthy stretch battle with Merry Meadow to win the Grade 3, $150,000 Bed o’ Roses for fillies and mares, giving jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. his fifth and final victory on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Stepping up in class and cutting back in distance off a second in a stakes restricted to New York-breds, Hot Stones was prominent early, racing just off the pace in fourth as Ultimate Shopper led through opening fractions of 22.79 seconds for a quarter-mile and 45.66 for a half.

With five-sixteenths to travel, Hot Stones began to close in on the leader, entering the stretch racing three wide outside of Ultimate Shopper and Merry Meadow. Ultimate Shopper soon folded, leaving Hot Stones and Merry Meadow to battle for the victory. The duo matched strides in the final sixteenth of a mile before Hot Stones put her nose on the wire first.

Hot Stones, backed at 6-1 in the field of 10, returned $15.40 for a $2 win wager and completed seven furlongs in 1:21.98.

“She always likes to fight a little bit when you get close to the wire,” said Ortiz. “I started asking her early and she had something for the end. Thankfully, she got her head in front at the wire. I figured there would be a lot of speed in the race, but I had to move a little earlier.”

Ortiz swept the stakes on Sunday’s card, also taking race 7, the $100,000 Wild Applause, with Walk Close ($10.60). In addition, he won race 1 with International Star ($20.80), race 4 with Royal Jest ($4.80), and race 6 with Go Appeal ($7.50).

Ortiz, who had nine mounts on Saturday’s card, is second in the Belmont spring/summer meet standings with 33 wins, six behind Javier Castellano.

The Bed o’ Roses was Hot Stones’ graded stakes debut and first start wearing blinkers. After winning five of her first nine starts, she finished second by a half-length to La Verdad, who has won three straight stakes starts, in the one-mile Critical Eye on May 31 at Belmont Park.

“I said [before the Bed o’ Roses], ‘If La Verdad is in here, she’s 4-5. Why wouldn’t I take a shot?’“ said winning trainer Bruce Levine. “I was worried a little about the 21 days [between the Critical Eye and the Bed o’ Roses], but she came back bouncing. When fillies are doing good, you have to take a shot.”

With her Bed o’ Roses victory, Hot Stones improved her record to 6-3-1 from 11 starts. She has earned $363,607, including $90,000 for her Bed o’ Roses triumph.

Levine said he originally had plans to seek a New York-bred stakes for Hot Stones following the Bed o’ Roses, but now will consider running her in a graded sprint stakes.

“We were thinking about going in a New York-bred [stakes] going long,” said Levine. “Now we have to rethink it, maybe even point to the Ballerina [Grade 1, $500,000, August 23, Saratoga Race Course] with something in between.”

Hot Stones, a daughter of Bustin Stones, is owned by Roddy J. Valente, Charles Casale, and Darlene Bilinski. She was bred in New York by Jerry Bilinski and Valente.

Calistoga finished third, four lengths behind the winner. Street Girl, the 7-2 favorite, reported home fourth, with Ultimate Shopper, Five Star Momma, Table Three Ten, Classic Point, Flattering Bea, and Lion D N A completing the order of finish. Ode to Sami was scratched.