Defining Hope surprises in City of Anderson Stakes

She proved herself in her first and only start with a six and three-quarter win to break her maiden, but a step up into stakes action left Defining Hope with few backers in the 16th running of the $100,000-added City of Anderson Stakes Wednesday, Sept. 14. The two-year-old filly dug in gamely to defeat race favorite Whistle Stop in a stretch battle to remain undefeated in two career starts.

Defining Hope was impressive in her second start, adding another win to her credentials for jockey Malcolm Franklin, trainer Barb McBride and Owner Colette Vanmatre. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Defining Hope was impressive in her second start, adding another win to her credentials for jockey Malcolm Franklin, trainer Barb McBride and Owner Colette Vanmatre. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Defining Hope had a task from the start. She left the starting gate from post eight with jockey Malcolm Franklin aboard in the six-furlong sprint. Whistle Stop and Marcelino Pedroza had a good inside post to show their early speed skills and did just that. However, Runaway Rosie and Eddie Perez also had the same game plan. They wanted to get on the lead early and took over the top spot down the backstretch, keeping Defining Hope to their outside and Whistle Stop at their heels, passing the first quarter in a swift :22.40 seconds. Heading into the turn, Whistle Stop began to rally, shooting between horses.

Halfway through the turn, it became a two-horse race between Whistle Stop on the inside and Defining Hope on the outside. The two hit the stretch together and both horses dug in gamely. The battle lasted nearly the entire length of the stretch before Defining Hope got the advantage at the wire, winning by one and three-quarter lengths in a time of 1:11.66. Oh So Thirsty and 2016 Leading Jockey Fernando De La Cruz finished third.

“My game plan was I wanted to make sure to pressure the three (Whistle Stop) and if she wanted to run, I wanted to make her run,” said Franklin. “She (Defining Hope) had a clean break and she proved she was the better horse today. She’s a little green and has little quirks about her, but I think she will grow out of them.”

Owner Colette Vanmatre, fourth from right, accepts the trophy for Defining Hope in the City of Anderson Stakes Wednesday, Sept. 14. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Owner Colette Vanmatre, fourth from right, accepts the trophy for Defining Hope in the City of Anderson Stakes Wednesday, Sept. 14. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Defining Hope is owned by first-time racehorse owner Colette Marie Vanmatre of Westfield, Ind. Barb McBride trains the daughter of Strong Hope. Defining Hope rewarded her backers with $16.40, $4.80, and $3.60 across the board. The Indiana-bred freshman increased her career bankroll to more than $80,000.

“Her mother (On the Point) got hurt in the gate as a two-year-old,” said Vanmatre. “I bought her as a three-year-old and bought her just to breed. She is my first horse. We bred her at five and this filly stayed at Dr. (Roger) Beam’s in Trafalgar (Indiana) until she was 18 months old and then we transferred her down to Margaux Farm near Lexington, Ky.

Margaux Farm broke Defining Hope and got her into training before she moved to McBride’s barn in June. McBride said Vanmatre called Herb Likens, one of her owners, and asked about a trainer, and Likens forwarded her to McBride.

“She (Defining Hope) is the only two-year-old filly I have in the barn out of seven two-year-olds this year,” said McBride. “She has shown promise from day one. She can be tough to handle. In fact, ‘Chilly’ in the barn is the only one that can handle her. She can’t walk outside and she can’t walk near a fan, but she is getting better and she is such a nice looking filly. I just lucked out getting her.”

This is the second straight year McBride and Franklin have won the City of Anderson Stakes. They connected with Special Talent to win the 2015 running of the event. McBride is known for her success with young horses and almost always has at least one entry in the two-year-old stakes in Indiana. It appears she may have more coming up from Vanmatre.

“We are going to breed her (Defining Hope’s) mother in the spring,” added Vanmatre. “We have a yearling colt out of her right now by Indiana sire Lentenore that is down at Margaux (Farm).”

The race also marked the 992nd career win for Franklin, who is closing in on his first riding milestone.