“Poly Monster” Purely Hot Heads Holiday Inaugural Field at Turfway
FLORENCE, Ky. (Dec. 6, 2013) – Stakes winner and graded stakes placed Purely Hot heads a full field of fillies and mares in the 28th running of the Holiday Inaugural Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday. Her journey to the Northern Kentucky entry box has been anything but routine.
Purely Hot made just one start as a 3-year-old but she made up for blooming late with 14 starts as a 4-year-old. She kept the claim box busy for a year, taken for as high as $25,000 in her third start and going back and forth from the barns of Nick Caruso and John Locke through March of this year for tags ranging from $12,500 to $4,000.
Caruso had the last claim, for $10,000, and his decision to move the already-successful mare out of claiming ranks and off the dirt ratcheted up her career. After four straight wins on the all-weather surface at Presque Isle, including the Satin and Lace Stakes, and another win-turned-DQ there, Purely Hot finished second to champion sprinter Groupie Doll in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes in September. She next was fourth in Keeneland’s Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (G2) behind both Groupie Doll and Judy the Beauty, who would next finish one-two in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1).
Purely Hot changed hands again after the Keeneland start, but not via the claim box; the 5-year-old mare was purchased for $225,000 by Unlimited Equine LLC at the Fasig-Tipton November sale and moved to the barn of trainer Tevis McCauley. She made her first start for McCauley in the Bessarabian Stakes (G2) at Woodbine, finishing fourth.
The question for Purely Hot on Saturday is timing. The Bessarabian ran just last Sunday, and the Holiday Inaugural will be her 12th start this year. But McCauley said she’s ready.
“She did just run on Sunday, but she seems to have bounced out of the race really well,” McCauley said from his base at Keeneland. “Her energy level is very high, she’s eating good, and she’s sound. If she stays that way tomorrow, we’ll be running at Turfway.
“She’s a Poly monster. Her best surface is the Polytrack, and it looks like [the Holiday Inaugural] is our last opportunity to run her on it in a stake until the spring. She’ll get a freshening after this race.”
Purely Hot carries 124 lbs. and jockey Alejandro Contreras in the Holiday Inaugural and will break from post eight. Joining her, from the rail out, are Lady Diva Ga Ga (122, jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr.); Facey’s Spirit (124, Charles Lopez); Elusive Act, whose claim history rivals Purely Hot’s (119, Albin Jimenez); Classy Zip (120, Noel Vigil); Ire (122, Victor Lebron); Soft Whisper (120, Rodney Prescott); Dreamin Big (124, Jon Court); Brown Eyes Blue (119, Channing Hill); Maude S (124, Roberto Morales); In a Jif (119, Perry Ouzts); and Ms. Rhetta (120, Azael De Leon), the latter two off the also-eligible list.
The six-furlong, $50,000 Holiday Inaugural is the eighth of nine races Saturday. First post is 1:10 p.m.