2023 Hopeful Stakes: Nutella Fella a sweet surprise

It was the last call at Saratoga on Monday, the big summer meet closing with a massive upset in the feature G1 2023 Hopeful Stakes as 54-1 shot Nutella Fella broke the hearts of chalk players with a decisive stretch rally. Elsewhere, the progressive Pioneering Spirit made his stakes breakthrough with a comfortable success in the ungraded Bernard Baruch.

Breeders Cup Odds

Hopeful Stakes

G1, $300,000, 7f dirt, 2yo

Nutella a sweet surprise

Closing day at Saratoga on Monday brought one final statistic, with boxcar longshot Nutella Fella becoming the highest-priced winner of the whole meet at 54-1, coming from last to first to take the G1 Hopeful from the favoured Timberlake and Pirate.

It was a strong field, admittedly diminished by the late scratch of morning-line favourite Muth, and when the gates opened Nutella Fella was last out, being completely detached from the field through the early running and only starting to gain ground on the turn.

He still had plenty to do in mid-stretch, but the fast early pace brought the front-runners back and he cut them down in style, surging powerfully past Timberlake to win by a length and a half, with Pirate a neck back in third.

“I didn’t want to bother him by changing leads, so I just kept riding him and he kept finding more for me,” said jockey Junior Alvarado.

2023 Hopeful Stakes Race Video


Nutella Fella wins the G1 Hopeful Stakes #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horsetok #Sports #FYP

♬ original sound – horseracingtote – horseracingtote

Nutella Fella, now unbeaten in two after a debut score at Delaware Park, was making his first start for trainer Gary Contessa, who will point him towards the G1 Champagne at Aqueduct on October 7, with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile a potential year-end target.

2023 Hopeful Stakes Race Payouts

1. Nutella Fella111.0035.0016.40
2. Timberlake 4.903.50
3. Pirate  6.90

Winning time: 1m 24.41s

Bernard Baruch Stakes

Ungraded, $150,000, 1m 1/16 turf, 3yo+

Spirit stays strong

Eight days between races proved no barrier for Pioneering Spirit, who was fresh and ready to make his stakes breakthrough in the Bernard Baruch, easily putting away Bring Me A Check and Public Sector.

The 3-1 third-choice had run third in the marathon G1 Sword Dancer here on August 26 and had plenty of speed for this sharp cutback, racing close up behind the steady fractions of Bring Me A Check until being flipped out by Jose Lezcano to challenge in mid-stretch.

He took command before the sixteenth-pole and cleared swiftly away to score by two and three-quarter lengths, with Bring Me A Check getting the place by a neck from Public Sector. The favourite Wit was a thoroughly disappointing last of five.

“The horse is just a dream,” said trainer Linda Rice, who tied for meet-leader at the Spa with Chad Brown. “And it was a masterful ride from Jose.”

Pioneering Spirit, winner of five of his last six starts, could well return to a mile and a half for the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Aqueduct on September 30.

2023 Bernard Baruch Stakes Race Payouts

1. Pioneering Spirit8.204.303.00
2. Bring Me A Check 7.103.20
3. Public Sector  3.00

Winning time: 1m 40.69s

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