06/03/2017 7:53PM

Feisty Snuggles captures seventh stakes victory

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Jockey Rico Walcott says he will return to Hastings to ride Snuggles again, even after taking a blow from the horse on Saturday.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Jockey Rico Walcott deserves full credit for Snuggles, $4.80, winning the $50,000 Strawberry Morn at Hastings on Saturday. Not for his ride in the 1 1/16 miles race for fillies and mares, though; he deserves the credit just for getting her to the starting gate.

Coming out of the paddock Snuggles reared up and knocked Walcott pretty hard in the chops. He came off the hot-headed filly but was able to hold onto her reins. She came very close to throwing one of her legs over the outside rail but luckily avoided getting it stuck. Despite the antics, Walcott said he would return to Hastings from his home base at Northlands Park to ride her in her next start.

“I don’t know,” said Walcott while rubbing his swollen upper lip. “She seems to be getting worse on post parade, but she can sure run.”

In the race Walcott allowed Snuggles to settle early while her stablemate, Chianti, posted a quick half-mile time of :46.97 seconds. She started to move into contention at the quarter-pole and when Walcott moved her off the rail coming out of the final turn she finished full of run to win going away.

Dear Lilly, who broke a step slow, stalked Chianti before taking the lead leaving the final turn but couldn’t hold off Snuggles late. Castellani ran an even race to finish third.

“Once I got her outside and hit her left-handed a few times she really turned it on,” Walcott said.

The final time was 1:45.94.

A homebred 4-year-old by Rosberg, Snuggles hasn’t lost in four starts at 1 1/16 miles; it was her seventh stakes win in 12 starts. The win brought her earnings to $320,750.

She is owned by Swift Thoroughbreds Inc. and trained by Dino Condilenios.

“She showed us how good she is today,” said Horatio Kemeny, one of the Swfit members. “She is our favorite homebred and the first super-successful horse we’ve bred.”

Last year Snuggles was the Horse of the Year in British Columbia.