Hello Beautiful
Hello Beautiful won the Safely Kept Stakes. Photo by Jerry Dzierwinski.

Hello Beautiful had proven she could run plenty fast, and she’d proven she could dominate against lesser competition.

But prior to Saturday’s $100,000 Safely Kept Stakes for sophomore fillies at Laurel Park, she hadn’t shown she could put it all together against a high-quality group of rivals.

Consider that blank space in her resume now filled in. Running under regular pilot Sheldon Russell – and on a track where she’s never tasted defeat – Hello Beautiful drew away to a three-length victory for her second 2020 stakes win and the fourth added-money score of her career.

“She’s so special,” said winning trainer Brittany Russell. “It means so much. I mean, you want to win races, but with a filly like this it’s, you know, it’s such a relief when she runs the way she did today.”

Indeed. Her two prior tries against open stakes company this year had resulted in up-the-track finishes. In the second of those, the Grade 2 Prioress at Saratoga, she’d finished sixth, nearly nine lengths behind winner Frank’s Rockette and over six behind Reagan’s Edge, who also showed up here in the Safely Kept. But she tuned up for this bout with an 11-length win in the Maryland Million Distaff and entered today raring to go.

Even today’s contest didn’t start out all that auspiciously for Hello Beautiful. Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks winner Fly On Angel outbroke her for the early advantage and cut across from her outside stall to attain the rail position. That left Hello Beautiful to wait, briefly, before moving up to that runner’s outside for a stalking spot.

“You know, Sheldon [Russell] and I discussed that could possibly happen, so we were prepared for it,” Brittany Russell said. “To be fair, I wasn’t concerned; I knew Sheldon would take care of it.”

Fly On Angel led the field through an opening quarter-mile of 22.69 seconds and a half in 45.08. At both points of call, Hello Beautiful was in her rival’s hip pocket.

But Fly On Angel couldn’t keep the pace – she would finish last of seven – and Hello Beautiful swept to the lead in upper stretch. From there, it was all but over. Reagan’s Edge ran willingly into second but was never a threat to the winner. Longshot Landing Zone was up just in time for third, five more lengths behind the runner-up.

Running time for the seven furlongs over a fast main track was 1:22.26 – slightly faster than three-year-old boys managed it one race earlier in the Concern Stakes.

Surprisingly made the 7-10 favorite, Hello Beautiful paid just $3.40 to win and topped an exacta, with second-choice Reagan’s Edge, that returned just $3.50 for a dollar.

Hello Beautiful now has six wins from 12 career starts, with earnings of $317,110. Hello Beautiful is owned by a partnership including Madaket Stables LLC, Frassetto, Albert, Parkinson, Mark, K-Mac Stable and Magic City Stables, LLC. She was bred in Maryland by Hillwood Stables LLC.

And she’s shown that she can bring her A-game to bear against a quality field. In addition to the Grade 3 winner Fly On Angel, the group included multiple graded stakes-placed Reagan’s Edge, the promising Lady Rocket for trainer Brad Cox, and multiple stakes winner Bella Aurora. Lady Rocket finished fourth, while Bella Aurora was fifth.

Hello Beautiful is also now six-for-six on her home track of Laurel Park. That suggests that the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie in February – at seven furlongs at Laurel – would be a logical spot for the Maryland-bred daughter of Golden Lad. But Brittany Russell wasn’t quite willing to go there.

“I don’t know exactly what the plans are moving forward,” the trainer said. “I think we’ll keep her in training, but I think we’ll just enjoy today and make a plan from here.”

NOTES One race later, the husband-and-wife team of Sheldon and Brittany Russell doubled up, winning the Frank Whiteley Stakes when Whereshetoldmetogo held off the late run of Laki for a narrow victory… Trainer Lacey Gaudet zigged when everyone else zagged, which proved to be the right move when three-year-old Dontletsweetfoolya tackled her elders in the $100,000 Primonetta Stakes and thrashed them, winning off by five lengths for her first stakes win and fourth win in a row overall… 16-1 outsider Air Token was along late to upset the Concern Stakes for owner-trainer Jose Corrales and rider Air Token…