HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Alex Rankin’s Tar Heel Mom, trained by Stanley Hough and ridden by Alan Garcia, held off Hilda’s Passion down the stretch to win the $100,000 Sugar Swirl (G3) by a neck Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

A 6-year-old mare by Flatter, Tar Heel Mom’s victory was her eighth in 22 starts. She was third, beaten a head, in last year’s Sugar Swirl and was a winner last spring of Aqueduct’s Distaff Handicap (G2). She covered the six-furlongs Saturday in 1:09.75.

Third behind an opening :22.13 quarter set by D’wild Ride, Tar Heel Mom inched to the front around the turn before driving down the stretch to victory.

Trainer Stan Hough (Tar Heel Mom): “It looked like she had this race won last year, but got beat on the wire (third by head). She came out of the Vagrancy (May 29) with a condylar (fracture) in a hind cannon bone. We put a screw in it and she came back good, so we decided to go on with her. She might have been a little short for her race back (third in Garland of Roses at Aqueduct on Dec. 4). We’ll run her through the series here like we did last year (Hurricane Bertie next on Feb. 13), and if she’s still going well we’ll keep her in training. If not, and shows signs of age, there is still a window to breeder her.”

Jockey Alan Garcia (Tar Heel Mom): “She’s a nice filly and always tries hard and she demonstrated that today. I had a great feeling when she took the lead today and had a lot of horse at the the end.”

Jockey Javier Castellano (Hilda’s Passion): “I’m very happy with effort today. She kept fighting and gave me everything she had turning for home. I was outside a little bit, but I give credit to the winner.”