Rigney Racing LLC’s Halina’s Forte swept past frontrunning Hot Beach coming out of the far turn, raced to a clear lead at the top of the stretch and easily won a second level, $125,000 optional claiming at Churchill Downs Friday. 

Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Halina’s Forte covered six furlongs in 1:09.17 on the fast track to win by two lengths ahead of Tanya’s Showers in second with Trial third. They were followed, in order, by Florida-bred Let Them Watch, Ms. Tart, Florida-bred Honey Dijon and Hot Beach.

Halina’s Forte was sent to the post as the even-money favorite and paid $4.18 to win.

It was the third career win in seven starts for Halina’s Forte and the $48,720 winner’s share of the $98,960 purse increased her career earnings to $288,370. She also has two seconds and two thirds.

Coming out of a fourth-place finish to winner My Mane Squeeze in the Grade 2 Eight Belles over a sloppy seven furlongs at Churchill on May 3, Halina’s Forte won for the first time since taking the $100,000 Ruthless going seven furlongs at Aqueduct on Feb. 17.

Last year, the bay daughter of Mitole was second in both the $215,000 Fern Creek won by Youalmosthadme at Churchill in November and to Leslie’s Loot in the $98,000 Letellier at Fair Grounds in December.

Out of Lunarlady, by Yes It’s True, Halina’s Forte was bred in Florida by Bill and Corinne Heilegbrodt and Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck. The Vanlangendoncks consigned her under their Summerfield banner at the 2022 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Winter Mixed Sale where Woodford Thoroughbreds took her for $130,000. Woodford then consigned her through 2023 Fasig-Tipton July Yearling Sale where Chenowith Run Stables bought her for $250,000. She is also a graduate of the early training program at Eddie Woods Stable in Ocala, Fla.

Return to the May 31 issue of Wire to Wire