(Hello Hot Rod captures Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aquecuct / Chelsea Durand Photo & Courtesy of NYRA)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Hello Hot Rod dug in gamely to best Return the Ring by a head in Sunday’s 37th renewal of the $100,000 Jimmy Winkfield, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained and co-owned by Brittany Russell with Dark Horse Racing, the Mosler colt made a victorious stakes debut while running his win streak to three following a pair of scores at his Laurel Park base, including a last-out optional-claiming mile on December 13.

Jockey Trevor McCarthy, aboard Hello Hot Rod for the first time from the inside post, revved the engines out of the gate and angled his colt out a few paths to set the opening quarter-mile in 23.86 seconds on the fast main track.

Return the Ring, under Dylan Davis, and the Kendrick Carmouche-piloted Pico d’Oro took up stalking positions outside of Hello Hot Rod as the half-mile ticked by in 48.16. Hello Hot Rod continued to lead through the turn as Carmouche attempted a wide bid with Pico d’Oro outside of the well-rated Return the Ring.

Davis asked Return the Ring for his best out of the turn and hooked up with a stubborn Hello Hot Rod, who continued to find more. Pico d’Oro rallied in vain down the center of the track but was always third best as Hello Hot Rod, briefly headed by Return the Ring, pinned his ears and refused to be denied a narrow win in a final time of 1:26.30.

Return the Ring completed the exacta by a half-length over Pico d’Oro. Scotch Rock’s and Magnificent Chrome rounded out the order of finish. Weyburn was scratched.

McCarthy, who picked up the mount from the trainer’s husband Sheldon Russell, said Hello Hot Rod fought bravely for the win.

“Sheldon told me that he’s game as can be, he’ll give you a hundred percent and he likes to fight,” said McCarthy. “When he hooks one, he’ll keep giving, and that’s what he did today. Thank you to Brittany and Sheldon, it’s good to win one for good friends.

“He [Return the Ring] kind of came back on again, so a big effort by the other horse,” added McCarthy. “I think he got more involved. When the other horse got in front he said, ‘No thanks, you’re not beating me.’”

The Eddie Barker-trained Return the Ring entered from a debut maiden win sprinting six furlongs on November 28 at the Big A and Davis said the added furlong may have been his undoing.

“He actually got in front for a little bit the last part, but the last four, five jumps before the wire, that seven-eighths was getting to him a little bit,” said Davis. “He ran a great race and stepped up. He added a little more distance. He was trying really hard. Eddie did a great job getting him here. I think he’s going to run good in the future. The winner was just a little bit of a better horse.”

Out of the Tiznow mare Hello Now, Hello Hot Rod is a half-brother to the Russell-trained multiple stakes winning filly Hello Beautiful. Bred in Maryland by Hillwood Stables, Hello Hot Rod banked $55,000 in victory while improving his record to 4-3-1-0. He returned $4.80 for a $2 win ticket.

Purchased for $10,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling Sale, Russell said she’s looking forward to testing Hello Hot Rod’s stamina.

“I don’t think stretching out would be an issue,” said Russell. “We considered other spots going further in distance, but this looked like a good spot to get the year started. It’s nice to win another one with him and use it as a stepping stone to other things.”

Live racing resumes Thursday at Aqueduct with an eight-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.