01/30/2016 6:04PM

Candida H. proves best in Conniver Stakes

Maryland Jockey Club photo
Candida H. and jockey Julian Pimentel win the Conniver Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths Saturday.

Candida H. had been competitive in three second-level optional-claiming starts since returning from a seven-month layoff, but on Saturday at Laurel Park, she showed what she is truly capable of by using a quick move entering the stretch to take control of the seven-furlong Conniver Stakes.

Candida H. drifted inward once wresting the lead from Brenda’s Way, despite left-handed whipping by jockey Julian Pimentel, and scored by 2 1/2 lengths while being taken in hand late. Brenda’s Way held second by three-quarters of a length over the late-running longshot Miss Bullistic.

Lionhearted Lady, the 4-5 favorite in the field of eight Maryland-bred fillies and mares, finished fourth, a half-length behind Miss Bullistic, her Hamilton Smith-trained stablemate.

Candida H. paid $10.80 as the third betting choice. She was timed in 1:24.05 over a fast track. Candida H. is now three for 10, with earnings of $172,377.

Brenda’s Way went to the early lead in the $75,000 Conniver while being tracked by Eddy Gourmet and Lionhearted Lady. Candida H. raced in fourth position while being patiently handled by Pimentel.

On the far turn, Lionhearted Lady went after Brenda’s Way, but Candida H. launched a bold bid outside of them and took the lead straightening into the stretch. She was in command to the wire.

“She always tries hard,” said Pimentel, who has ridden Candida H. in six straight races. “When I took her to the outside, she just took off.”

Candida H. is a 4-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid out of the Broad Brush mare Magical Broad. She was bred by Robert Meyerhoff, who bred and owned the multiple Grade 1 winner Broad Brush, and is owned by his family’s Fitzhugh LLC. Candida H. is trained by Mike Trombetta.

“She’s a big filly, and we stopped on her and gave her some time last spring,” Trombetta said. “We should have a lot of options around here with her. It looks like she’ll go further.”

Trombetta and Pimentel, who turned 35 Saturday, won another race together earlier on the card.