Hello Beautiful
Hello Beautiful was much the best in the 2020 Maryland Million Distaff. Photo by Allison Janezic.

Racing for the first time in nearly four months, Madaket Stables, Albert Frassetto, Mark Parkinson, K-Mac Stables and Magic City Stables’ Hello Beautiful flashed her multiple stakes-winning form and came within a neck of handing undefeated Chub Wagon her first career loss in the June 13 Shine Again at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Trainer Brittany Russell believes the 4-year-old filly is primed for a similar type of effort when she returns as the horse to beat in Saturday’s $100,000 Alma North, seeking her first win in three career tries at Pimlico.

Hello Beautiful had a three-race win streak, all in stakes, snapped when fifth after dueling for the lead in the seven-furlong Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3) Feb. 20 at Laurel Park. She got some time off at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. and was sharp as ever in her comeback, setting brisk fractions of :22.21, :45.32 and 1:10.21 before grudgingly giving way in the shadow of the wire.

It was only the fifth time in 15 career races – seven of them wins, five in stakes – where Hello Beautiful did not go off as the favorite. Three of those occasions came in her first four starts.

“There’s always a lot of pressure with a horse like her, when she runs a bad race and has a pretty legitimate excuse, but she trains well in the morning and you don’t really know until you walk them over,” Russell said. “Just to have her show up and run hard last time and show that she’s still here and still wants to race and fight like she does, it was really nice to see. Hopefully we can keep her going through the rest of the year.”

Though nominated, Chub Wagon is sitting the Alma North out after improving to 8-0 in the July 10 Dashing Beauty at Delaware Park. Hello Beautiful has breezed three half-miles this month at Pimlico, including a bullet :48.60 July 14. Most recently, she went in :49.00 July 22 under Russell’s husband, jockey Sheldon Russell.

“She’s trained really well. We’re very happy with her,” Brittany Russell said. “Sheldon worked her last week and all systems point to go. Hopefully the time she’s had and as well as she’s done in between and running at Pimlico, which she showed she can absolutely handle, will prove beneficial.

“She’s been working quite forwardly. It’s as if she felt she was going to race a couple times now in this little time period between races,” she added. “She’s been kind of full steam ahead going off of the pole working. I would expect nothing less in the afternoon.”

Sheldon Russell has the call on Hello Beautiful from Post 2 of six at topweight of 126 pounds.

Other logical players in this spot include Club Car, the Ben Colebrook trainee who was third behind Chub Wagon in the May 15 Skipat and most recently second in the Grade 3 Chicago on the synthetic at Arlington Park; Precious, the late-running John Servis trainee who was second last out in the five-furlong Power By Far at Parx; and the inconsistent Call on Mischief, a Kelly Breen trainee whose best efforts would put her in the mix.