Lovable Lyss Sharp in First Start Around Two Turns

Lovable Lyss Sharp in First Start Around Two Turns
Photo: Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire

Hugh Robertson’s Lovable Lyss has exited her superb victory in Thursday’s feature in good shape, according to her owner-trainer. The daughter of Big Brown aced her first two-turn test on Thursday in Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ initial open two-turn juvenile filly allowance, besting stakes-placed Twirl Girl and well-regarded Northwest Tale in the process.


Lovable Lyss out-broke her five rivals and set sail through a half-mile in 47.99 before settling into a nice rhythm with her ears pricked and running three quarters of a mile in a relaxed 1:13.58. After turning for home, she kicked clear with authority before being eased up in the final sixteenth by Francisco Torres for a five-length victory that conceivably could have been double its size.


“She’s fine today,” Robertson said. “She’s a quiet filly who’s very sweet. I wanted to run her long mostly because it’s easier on horses than sprinting and I thought she would be fine going two turns. She has a pretty high cruising speed and the thing she always had that impressed me in the mornings is you can go out and work her five-eighths (of a mile) and she would gallop out another quarter(-mile) in 25 or 26 (seconds). She doesn’t have much stop to her. Not a lot of horses can do that.


“I didn’t tell ’Cisco (Torres) anything, but I thought she’d be in front,” he continued. “With the way she broke and being inside going long the first time, she went out there on her own and relaxed really kindly.”


Fair Grounds, despite its marquee race for fillies – the Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks –  not having Grade I status, has arguably been the place to watch for top fillies leading up to the spring’s Grade I $1,000,000 Kentucky Oaks over the last decade, with seven of the last 10 Kentucky Oaks winners (Lovely MariaUntapableBelieve You CanRachel Alexandra,Proud SpellLemons Forever and Summerly) having been based or prepped over its surface. In fact, in 2015 the top-three Oaks finishers – Lovely Maria, Shook Up and I’m a Chatterbox – were New Orleans-based and -raced leading up to the top 3-year-old filly race in the country. This year, Robertson hopes his filly can join those ranks, but he is in no hurry to push his $7,000 Keeneland September 2014 purchase.


“I would imagine I’ll run her, if everything is fine, in the (Listed $150,000) Silverbulletday (Stakes on Jan. 16),” he confirmed. “That’s a ways away and she’ll have to show me she came out good. She seems fine now, but you never know until you train her and sometimes they get hyperactive when you get a couple races in them.


“(Fair Grounds) has the tracks – both the dirt and the turf – in really good shape,” he continued. “They’re doing a good job.”





Leading trainer Mike Stidham has played the quality game well so far this season at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Striking at 33% from his 36 starters through Thursday’s card, he has also hit the board 72% of the time. On Dec. 19th’s ‘Santa Super Saturday’ card he will play the quantity hand as he tops all trainers with 10 starters in six of the races, including three – Christine and Phil Hatfield’s Zubi Zubi Zu (8-1), M & M Partners’ Masquerade (10-1) and Russell Jones’ Zloty(10-1) – in a wide-open renewal of the $60,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes for turf fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles.


The veteran conditioner also runs David Thorner’s Princess Kennedy in the $50,000 Letellier Memorial for juvenile fillies going six furlongs, DARRS Inc.’s regally bred Lewis Vale in the $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial for older turf horses going 1 1/16 miles, and the pair of Stone Farm’s Argot and Steven Perlick et al.’s D. Shifflett in the $50,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes for open 2-year-olds going six furlongs.


Argot, like Zloti and Princess Kennedy, will be making his first start for Stidham after being transferred. Such additions are welcome after top owners Ike and Dawn Thrash removed 12 horses from his care in October, shortly after winning the Grade I $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup together with Her Emmynency at Keeneland.


“When we shipped down here, we had just lost the Thrash horses – including Her Emmynency and 11 others – and coming off a Grade I win, that was like putting a pin in a balloon,” Stidham said. “We were a little deflated – but we have been coming to Fair Grounds for almost 20 years and we learned that it’s good to get here early and get a few works over the track and get comfortable. We didn't expect to win 12 races in the first few weeks, but we are really happy with how things are going. This is one of the best and safest tracks in the country and we’re happy to be here.”


Celebrating his 58th birthday – or second 29th, depending on perspective – on Friday, the native of Neptune, New Jersey, not only has the opportunity to take down four of Saturday’s six holiday stakes as a gift to himself, but could extend his lead in purses-earned ($370,020), which is more than $100,000 clear of his next rival, Eddie Johnston.


“We’re feeling really good about our chances Saturday,” he said. “We have three fillies with complementary styles in the Blushing K. D. Masquerade likes to be near the front and is training well. Zubi Zubi Zu was excellent last time beating Eden Prairie and is the type of filly who needs to be covered up and not too far back so she can make her run. Zloty – I really like her – she is doing well and will make a run from behind. She’s stakes-placed already and the obvious goal with her is to win a stakes. She worked a good five furlongs the other day in 1:01 and change and is moving forward.


“I also really like how Princess Kennedy is coming into the Letellier,” he continued. “She’s a sprint filly who was stretched out in her last couple races and now she gets back to what she’s best at. I think she has a big shot in that race. As a whole, I just hope for a good day. The horses are doing well.”





Last year around this time at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Neil Howard was hoping William S. Farish’s homebredEagle would have tallied a couple stakes victories on the Triple Crown trail. Unfortunately, his son of Candy Ride hurt himself four weeks after an inexplicable off-the-board finish in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes as the 3-1 favorite and did not return to the races until September. Now, after two victories in three starts this fall, the smallish graded stakes-placed chestnut will try to earn his third consecutive victory and first in a stakes when he runs in Saturday’s $60,000 Tenacious Stakes over the same mile and 70 yards as the Lecomte.


“He’s doing good,” Howard said. “He’s done well and really matured nicely. So far everything has been going smoothly. We always felt he was a talented colt and the big thing with him was him growing up mentally. His professionalism has been satisfactory and he’s done well with that.


“He’s fairly versatile and he usually falls into a nice stalking position,” Howard continued. “He settles off, but if they’re not going too fast he can sit in the catbird seat. He’s been pretty push-button, but this is a big step up in competition from his last win in an allowance. Things have been falling in place with him and obviously we would like to see him fall into the category of stakes horses. This is his first big step as he’s turning four.”


A winner of half of his eight races and sporting a field-best last-out Beyer Speed Figure of 93, the chestnut charge breaks from post two under regular rider Brian Hernandez, Jr., and has been assigned third-choice odds of 4-1.





Steve Landers Racing’s Twirling Cinnamon has trainer Brad Cox confident that the son of freshman sire Twirling Candy can taste his first sweet stakes victory in Saturday’s $50,000 Sugar Bowl – the last of six ‘Santa Super Saturday’ stakes events on Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ Dec. 19th card.


“He’s doing really well,” Cox said. “That’s honestly why we’re running. We think he should take to the track and last time came running late at the same distance. The longer stretch hopefully will help him here.”


A winner going 5½ furlongs on dirt in his summer debut, the dark bay colt showed his versatility when winning a 7½-furlong two-turn grass allowance on Oct. 8 at Indiana Grand. In three stakes attempts he has failed to hit the board, but was a gaining fifth – beaten 2½ lengths – last out in the $100,000 Juvenile Sprint at Keeneland on Breeders’ Cup Saturday, Oct. 31.


“I think he’ll do both (dirt and turf), but right now there’s nothing else for him except for this race,” Cox said. “I don’t know how far he wants to go on the dirt, but I think he’ll handle two turns on the turf.”


Twirling Cinnamon breaks from the two-hole and will be ridden by Shaun Bridghmohan. He has been assigned 2-1 morning-line favoritism.




Thomas Julian’s Lockout will look to give his new owner and trainer a quick return on investment when the recent $20,000 Keeneland November 2015 Breeding Stock Sale purchase breaks from post seven under Miguel Mena in the $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial on Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. A graded stakes winner last out in the Grade II $200,000 Connaught Cup at Woodbine going seven grassy furlongs – his lone start of 2015 – the 6-year-old son of Limehouse was previously trained by Mark Casse and owned by John Oxley.


“We were at the sale and the owner really wanted him,” said trainer Allen Milligan. “We worked him a few times and he’s doing really good. He’s as fit as he can be without a race, so we’ll see how everything goes.”


Based at Remington Park, Lockout finished up his preparation with a five-furlong bullet of 10 moves in 1:01 flat on Dec. 8 and sports a career record of 23-6-7-2, including two wins from three starts at the Diliberto’s 1 1/16-miles distance.


“He does everything you ask him and is a very straight-forward, professional horse,” Milligan said. “I’d like to see him stalk and just relax and then come running.”





Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Grade I victress Kitten’s Dumplings may be entering the twilight of her career when she tops a competitive field of turf fillies and mares in Saturday’s $60,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes, but trainer Mike Maker believes she has a win left in her before the Ramseys decide to breed or sell the daughter of their flagship stallion Kitten’s Joy.


“She is doing well right now,” Maker said. “She had trouble last time. A horse bumped her pretty good, so hopefully that’s a throw-out race and she runs her race this time.”


In a career that has seen her earn $761,815 with multiple stakes victories – capped by a neck win in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in 2013 – the bay mare has only won once in her last six starts since returning to training off a 14-month layoff. Last out, she was ninth with aforementioned trouble in the Grade III $100,000 My Charmer Handicap at Gulfstream Park West. One race prior, she was an easy winner of the $75,000 Lil Miss Magic Stakes over the same course.


“I’d be surprised if they keep her in training,” Maker said. “I haven’t heard anything yet.”


Maker also stated that Michael Hui’s Flashlight – the morning-line favorite for the $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial later in the card – is training well, but will likely be scratched, citing shipping issues.




Michael Langford’s Brad Cox-trained Carve returned to the tab for the first time since September, working a half-mile in 52.20. The graded stakes winner was last seen finishing sixth in the Listed $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Cup on Aug. 1.


G M B Racing’s Triple Crown Trail hopeful Mo Tom, third last out in the Grade II $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club, worked a half-mile in 49.80 – his first move for trainer Tom Amoss since said Nov. 28 effort.


Multiple graded stakes winner Marchman continued his prep for the local $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes on Jan. 2 with a five-furlong move in 1:02 flat for trainer Bret Calhoun and owner Martin Racing Stable.


Graded stakes winner Coup de Grace continued working toward a return with a half-mile move in 50.40 for trainer Larry Jones and owner Fox Hill Farm.

Source: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots


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