While Mike G. Rutherford’s Steve Asmussen-trained Stageplay is likely to take the spotlight, locally based Hugh Robertson trainee Lovable Lyss is no less captivating in what looks to be an inspired match-up of sophomore filly talent inListed $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes.
Lovable Lyss, less fashionably bred than her Curlin-offspring counterpart, is a daughter of Big Brown out of a Stephen Got Even mare who cost her owner-trainer a mere $7,000 at Keeneland’s September 2014. Still, she has been no less brilliant. On debut she made up 10 lengths in the stretch to lose to a next-out stakes-placed filly at Arlington going five furlongs. In her return– and her Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots debut – she was an eye-catching graduate over two well-regarded fillies in Abundant Flurry and Sophieshardtocatch, splashing to victory by an easy 3¾ lengths. Again – she had more in the tank. On Dec 17, , she made the jump from six furlongs to a mile and 70 yards look effortless when wiring a Fair Grounds allowance field by five lengths and saving a round or two for the Silverbulletday when eased up by jockey Francisco Torres.
“We’ll see what she’s made out of,” Robertson said. “She hasn’t beaten a lot yet, as it’s one thing to beat those horses and another to run against these. (Stageplay) is going to be tough. She’s one who’s proven she can beat good horses. There are a couple others who might be better than we are, too, but I think she’s ready.
“She just handles everything really well,” he continued. “She’s actually put on weight off these two (Fair Grounds) races. She eats well and hasn’t gotten rank or anything, like some fillies can do after a couple races. She goes about her business and she’s not mean at all and does what you ask of her.”
STIDHAM LOOKING FOR NEW HEIGHTS WITH PINNACLE PEAK
Trainer Mike Stidham has had a lot of success in graded stakes and has a few trophies from Grade I races throughout his career to show for it, but one categorical box that has yet to be checked in the 58-year-old’s long and successful career is a star 3-year-old colt on the Derby Trail. Such could change by the end ofcard, as his speedy Pinnacle Peak figures to not only be one of those to beat, but also one of the ones to catch in the Grade III $200,000 TwinSpires.com Lecomte Stakes.
“He’s training well and he seems like he’s moving forward,” Stidham said of the Mark Breen-owned chestnut. “Off that win he’s had an easy breeze and I think he’s getting better. He’s leap-frogged forward on numbers and physically is more mature. He was a big, growthy kid as a 2-year-old and he’s now, with patient handling, developing into a nice 3-year-old.”
A son of sprinter Yes It’s True out of a mare by speed influence Indian Charlie, the homebred has shown plenty of early foot in his races. In fact, his best two efforts have been when he was on the lead early, including a maiden-breaking victory by a whopping 10 lengths when taking the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Mile at its namesake course onand a Lecomte course and distance win in allowance/optional claiming company on Dec. 18, where he defeated the well-regarded Lecomte-entered duo of Tom’s Ready and Dolphus.
“It’s hard to say what his ceiling is and if there are distance limitations,” Stidham said. “He gets brave on the front end I think the outside post helps us. There is speed inside, but one is a sprinter stretching out. (Jockey) Florent (Geroux) is a good fit and understands how this horse works.”
MAJESTIC HARBOR FRESH FOR LOUISIANA CUTBACK
Gallant Stable’s Majestic Harbor, a warrior who has earned $904,754 from 37 starts, will look to inch even closer to the million-dollar mark in$75,000 Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. A Grade I winner two seasons ago, the son of Rockport Harbor has proven in recent starts that he still is a force with which to reckon – placing in four consecutive stakes races, including three graded events. Cross-entered in the grassy Grade III $125,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap on the same card, the Kentucky-bred completed his prep-work for with a sharp five-furlong work in 1:00.80 – a bullet of 82 .
“He’s doing really well and had a bullet breeze that he handled nicely,” trainer Paul McGee said. “I feel like he’s going to run a good race. I entered in the Bradley just in case we got a lot of rain and it came off (the turf).”
Though Majestic Harbor has started at the Louisiana’s 1 1/16-miles distance 14 times and won or hit the board in 10 of those, he enters off three consecutive graded stakes placings at distances of 1¼ miles and beyond, including a third after setting the pace last out in the Grade II $250,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup at its namesake course on.
“Our preference would be if the race was further, but our hands are tied,” McGee Said. “We did freshen him up and have trained him lightly because he had a pretty strong campaign late last year. He’s had just a few light breezes and hopefully he can get it done. I think he should be okay going a mile and a sixteenth.”
PRAYED FOR ONE TO WATCH IN KRANTZ
In a wide-open 14-abreast renewal of the $60,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial, Ben Walden, Jr.’s Prayed For could be overlooked in a field full of possible winners. Still, the talented daughter of the late Dynaformer must be respected on her local form, including two victories from three tries and a third – all in 2015 – for conditioner Alice Cohn.
1 1/16-miles grass event will be her first for Cohn since August, as she spent the second half of the summer and all of the autumn in Florida with Marty Wolfson. The highlight of her quartet of Sunshine State attempts was a victory in the $75,000 Panama City Stakes going a mile on . Since returning to Cohn at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, she has recorded a lone working – five furlong sin flat on Jan. 6 and she starts from post eight with Leandro Goncalves.
“She’s good right now,” Cohn said. “We haven’t had her too long sine she was in Florida and we’re just trying to get her ready for this race. She likes it here and she did very well in allowance races last year – but this is definitely a stakes race this time. Right now she’s pretty fit. She only has one published work, but she’s had some strong two-minute licks and was very fit when she got here from Florida.
“Even though she was running well here and in Kentucky, she was running into very tough fillies,” Cohn continued. “In one of her best efforts and numbers, she finished eighth against some tough horses, so we sent her there to Florida to get some black type. (Walden) did the right thing for her and now she is getting a shot at a stakes this winter. She may need this race, but hopefully she runs well enough to support keeping her in training and going to the next (stakes).”
Mark Breen’s multiple stakes winner Jessica’s Star worked a half-mile in 50.60 Thursday morning for trainer Mike Stidham in what was the son of Magna Graduate’s second since returning from a layoff dating back to late June.
Maggi Moss’ Control Stake, who is unraced since winning the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap on , had his third work since then, going a half-mile in 49 flat morning.
Turf stakes winner El Seventyseven worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 for trainer Hugh Robertson and owner Novogratz Racing Stables morning.
Louisiana-bred millionaire and Fair Grounds favorite Sunbean continued his comeback from injury with a five-furlong move in 1:02.40 for trainer Ron Faucheux and owner Brittlyn Stable.
William S. Farish’s homebred Eagle, the likely favorite for $75,000 Louisiana Stakes, worked a half-mile in 48.80 morning for trainer Neil Howard.
Clark Brewster’s multiple stakes winner Bayerd had his first work back since winning the $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes on Jan. 2, going four furlongs in an easy 52.80 for trainer Steve Asmussen .
Speedway Stable’s 2013 Canadian champion 3-year-old filly Leigh Court, who is preparing for her 6-year-old season, worked a half-mile in 49.20 for trainer Mike Stidham.
Brittlyn Stable’s talented stakes winner Forevamo worked a half-mile in 50 flat for trainer Al Stall, Jr. .
Multiple graded stakes winner Cassatt worked five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.40 for trainer Larry Jones and owner Fox Hill Farm , the best of 33 for the recent winner of the $100,000 She’s All In Handicap at Remington Park.
Possible Grade III $200,000 TwinSpires.com Lecomte Stakes favorite Mo Tom worked five furlongs in flat for trainer Tom Amoss and owner G M B Racing.
Fox Hill Farm’s multiple graded stakes winner Coup de Grace worked toward his 5-year-old bow in $75,000 Louisiana Stakes with a five-furlong move in 1:01.80 for trainer Larry Jones morning.
Hugh Robertson’s Lovable Lyss worked a half-mile in 49 flat for her owner-trainer
Source: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots morning in preparation for her first big test in Listed $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes.