To watch a race replay of Niki Hill’s Breeders Crown victory, click here.
East Rutherford, NJ — After coming up just short behind Queen Of Success in last week’s elimination, Tom Hill’s Niki Hill ($3.40) established early control of the terms in the $600,000 Breeders Crown final for 2-year-old pacing fillies, held Friday (Oct. 29) at The Meadowlands — and she lived up to all expectations, delivering a devastating 1:51 score over sloppy going.
Niki Hill was parked through the entire first turn, yet, after working to clear Queen Of Success for the lead just beyond a :26.2 first quarter, she faced nary a nervous moment. Of the decision to maintain a two-wide advance rather than opting for a midfield tuck on the first turn, driver Dexter Dunn credited Niki Hill’s sheer athleticism:
“She’s got an amazing set of lungs; she doesn’t seem to get tired,” Dunn said. “She’s got a high cruising speed. I didn’t want to get her jammed up and start her up again. I thought I had the best filly in the race, and I drove her like that. She did the rest.”
After working to gain the lead, Niki Hill coasted through a :54.4 half-mile and evaded the first-over advance of Treacherous Dragon past three-quarters in 1:23.1 — at which point Queen Of Success faltered from the pocket and caused Dont Fence Me In to momentarily check.
Queen Of Success’ misstep off the home turn enabled Niki Hill to more easily gain separation on her rivals, and she edged away steadily to capture her seventh career win by a widening 4-3/4 lengths. Ohio standout Sea Silk rallied off cover to collar Treacherous Dragon for runner-up honors.
Niki Hill, a Stephen Dey III-bred daughter of Always B Miki and Road Bet, has now earned $628,314 in her career. Prior to her Breeders Crown title, her biggest win came in the She’s A Great Lady at Woodbine Mohawk Park, where she took her 1:50.2 lifetime mark.
Trainer Chris Ryder, who indicated after the race that the filly is also staked to the Kindergarten and the Three Diamonds this fall, was similarly delighted with his star pupil’s bounce-back effort from last week’s defeat:
“It was a statement from start to finish. I was super proud of her tonight. Last week, we had a little bit of a hiccup — she tied up a little bit, had a few minor issues. She was herself tonight.”