Although rain had plagued the afternoon program all day Wednesday, the inclement weather stopped long enough for Hungarian Princess to score the win in the 20th running of the $100,000 Shelby County Stakes.
The race is one of the three original stakes that began during the inaugural season at Horseshoe Indianapolis in 2003.
Hungarian Princess is now a four-time stakes winner at Horseshoe Indianapolis, located in Shelbyville, Indiana. After turning in a brilliant three-year-old campaign last season, she was stepping up to face older females for the first time in her career.
Starting from the extreme outside post nine in the six-furlong sprint, Hungarian Princess was among the first to emerge from the starting gate on the lead. However, after surveying the early speed, jockey Sammy Bermudez changed his game plan and backed away from the early pace as Unbridled Victory and Marcelino Pedroza Jr. took over along the inside tracked closely by Lil Evie and Tommy Pompell and Miss Deputy Star and Alex Achard on the outside of the top two.
Once the bunch had spread out some heading into the only turn of the sprint, Bermudez asked Hungarian Princess to start picking up the tempo and she responded.
Hungarian Princess was ready for the stretch drive at the head of the lane and went to battle with Unbridled Victory, who dug in gamely on the inside. The two fillies matched each other stride for stride for most of the stretch before Hungarian Princess got the edge in the final strides to win by one length. Pretty Assets, winner of the Shelby County Stakes in 2020, and Santo Sanjur rallied up late on the outside to finish third.
The time of the sprint was 1:12.14 over the sloppy oval.
“We left and when I looked over and saw they were going on, I decided to sit back and relax with her,” said Bermudez, who has been aboard the filly for all 15 of her career starts. “I knew the five (Acutely) could come up and close, so I didn’t want to come up short at the end and get passed up. She’s more mature being four now. She is more focused, and she’s grown some too.”
Hungarian Princess was the favorite of the field, paying $4.60 for the win. The daughter of Pataky Kid is owned by Swifty Farms, who also bred the impressive four-year-old. She now has eight career wins in 15 starts and has more than $383,000 in career earnings. She most definitely will join the powerhouse brood mare ranks of Swifty Farms once her racing career is over. This is the first year she has been part of trainer Marvin Johnson’s stable.
“I got her in mid-January, and it’s easy to train good horses,” said Johnson. “Good horses make everybody look good. She ran huge today. She’s the type of horse that never runs any harder than she has to. I was very happy with the outside post because you can sit out there and adjust way better, especially with horses like her. Plus, you never know what to expect when a horse is coming off a seven-month layoff and going head-to-head with horses that have been running, but she handled it great. I’m happy to have her in the barn.”