Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Alex Evers
The racing world might have had to wait until her 3-year old
season to see the unveiling of Sweet Lulu, but she has certainly made the wait worthwhile. Though untested thus
far in her short career, Sweet Lulu has not done anything wrong, even in her
debut, which was almost a debacle for the fleet daughter of Mr. Greeley.
In her debut race, the field left Sweet Lulu at the gate as
the filly was slow into stride. The chestnut filly refused to languish at the
back of the field, however, and quickly got up into second, a length and
a half behind pacesetting Double Classie
by the first call. By the second call, Sweet Lulu had struck the lead, and she
steadily increased her advantage to the wire, running the 6 panels in 1.11:29
under jockey Rafael Bejarano.
Nothing takes the place of race day experience, and Sweet
Lulu came away from her maiden-breaking victory having learned a valuable
lesson. In her next two starts, the filly was away from the gate smartly, not
giving her competition any undue advantage. In her second start, a NW1$X for
three-year fillies and up going six and a half furlongs, Sweet Lulu stalked the
pace from fourth before pouncing in midstretch and pulling away to win by 2 ¼ lengths.
Her third career start saw Sweet Lulu taking her show on the
road, shipping from Betfair Hollywood Park to Del Mar. In that race, a one mile
NW2$X optional claiming event for three-year old fillies and up, Sweet Lulu
showed yet another dimension. Rather than getting left at the gate and rushing
to get into the thick of things or stalking the pace, Sweet Lulu streaked
straight to the lead and never looked back, pounding her competition to the
tune of a 4 ¾ length win margin.
The original plan was for Sweet Lulu to make her stakes
debut in the Torrey Pines at Del Mar, a race to which Beholder is being pointed, but the filly was in such good form that
trainer Jerry Hollendorfer decided
to take a shot at the G1 Test Stakes
rather than wait another week for the Torrey Pines. In doing so, Sweet Lulu
will be shipping east to try both dirt and proven stakes winners for the first
time. All things considering, the spot could have been a lot tougher. Sprinting
sensation Kauai Katie or last year’s
West Coast darling Executiveprivilege
could have landed in this spot, but the former is getting the rest of the year
off and the latter just returned from a 7-month hiatus.
As it stands, Sweet Lulu will still have to face Grade 1
winners So Many Ways and Lighthouse Bay; Wildcat Lily and Irish Lute,
the second and third place finishers of the G1 Prioress; Grade 3 winners My Happy Face and Baby J; and stakes winners Ju Ju Eyeballs and I’m Mom’s Favorite.
Sweet Lulu comes into the race with one of the higher last out Beyer
figures, having earned a 99 for her previous start, whereas Baby J and
Lighthouse Bay earned figures of 85 and 93 for their victories in the Victory
Ride and Prioress respectively. My Happy Face recently ran a game second to Princess of Sylmar in the CCA Oaks, a
race in which The Princess earned a 104 Beyer figure for her efforts. Ju Ju
Eyeballs has proved to be an excellent claim for her connections, winning 5 of
6 off the claim, including two stakes, for new trainer Jason Servis and new owner Mr. Amore
It won’t be an easy “Test” for any of the nine fillies
entered, but Sweet Lulu stands just as good a chance as any of her other
rivals, especially since she has exhibited the ability to change racing tactics
when necessary. In terms of stakes experience, Sweet Lulu is clearly the
outsider in this accomplished bunch, but Hollendorfer obviously thinks she’s
ready, and her 5-2 morning line odds (the favorite) speak volumes about how the
oddsmaker perceives the betting public will view the filly.