By Ken Weingartner, for USTA — The father-and-son team of Tom and Scott Dillon recently retired millionaire female pacer Blue Diamond Eyes, but the longtime owners still have a stakes-winning filly to keep their eyes on.
Hungry For Love, who on Sept. 19 captured the Kentucky Commonwealth Series championship for 2-year-old filly pacers at Lexington’s Red Mile, returns to action at the same track Thursday in the first of two divisions of the Bluegrass Stakes. She will start from post eight in the eight-horse field with David Miller in the sulky for trainer Ron Burke.
For the season, Hungry For Love has six wins — all in the Kentucky stakes program — and a second in nine starts with earnings of $145,000. Her mark of 1:50.4 is tied for fifth fastest for a rookie filly pacer.
“She’s a nice filly,” Scott Dillon said. “You can race her any way you want, she seems easy that way, push button. Early on, Ronnie had to make a couple changes to her equipment and ever since then she’s been perfect to drive. She’s very professional. She has a super attitude. Ron has done a super job with her.”
Hungry For Love, purchased for $80,000 at last fall’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, is a daughter of Stay Hungry-Lover Of Art. The Dillons had previous success with some of the filly’s siblings, including Grand Circuit winner Rock Me Baby and Ontario Sire Stakes champ Summer Charm.
“She was probably the best-looking one that mare has had, just a good-sized filly.” Dillon said. “We had good luck with that family, so we took a shot and bought her.”
Hungry For Love was eligible to both Pennsylvania and Kentucky, but her connections decided to focus on the Bluegrass State. She won two preliminary legs of the early sire stakes series at Oak Grove and finished second in the $100,000 final.
Next came a try in the top-level Kentucky Championship Series, where she finished sixth in the first leg, before dropping to the mid-level Commonwealth. Hungry For Love swept her three preliminary legs and then captured the $100,000 final.
“It’s hard to race both (Pennsylvania and Kentucky), so we went to Kentucky,” Dillon said. “We tried her at the top class one time. We felt she was probably third best in there, so we dropped down where she could win. That’s how we managed her.”
Hungry For Love brings her four-race win streak to the Bluegrass Stakes, where she is the 5-1 morning-line second choice behind 3-2 favorite Twin B Joe Fresh.
The Chris Ryder-trained Twin B Joe Fresh has finished no worse than second in eight races, winning six, including the New York Sire Stakes final and Kentucky Championship Series title.
“She can’t beat Twin B Joe Fresh, she’s probably the class of the 2-year-olds,” Dillon said. “Other than that, she fits well in there. She just needs a little racing luck.”
Hungry For Love is eligible to a number of the season’s remaining Grand Circuit races, including the Breeders Crown and Three Diamonds, but time will tell where she goes.
“We’ll see how she does,” Dillon said. “We’re just going to take it one race at a time. She will let us know where she fits.”
As for Blue Diamond Eyes, the 4-year-old pacing mare was retired after being scratched from a Sept. 2 start because of soreness.
For her career, Blue Diamond Eyes won 16 of 43 races and earned $1.34 million. She captured Kentucky-sired championships at ages 2 through 4 as well as a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship at 2. She also won multiple times on the Grand Circuit, including the 2020 Three Diamonds.
“She was going to be a broodmare for us next year anyway, so we just shut her down,” Dillon said.