Fifteen-to-one sixth choice in Aqueduct’s $150,000, Grade 2 Go for Wand run on Black Friday, Lovely Lil triumphed in the one-turn mile, besting seven rival fillies and mares – including a pair of much-touted Rick Dutrow trainees – and turning the tables on fellow New Yorker Risky Rachel, who had out-dueled Lovely Lil in the seven-furlong Friendly Island Iroquois on Showcase Day.
With regular jockey Ramon Dominguez riding out of town, Lovely Lil was partnered for the first time with Cornelio Velasquez. Assigned to carry 115 pounds, the pair drew the rail. Dutrow-trainee All Due Respect, the odds-on favorite and co-highweight at 118, was drawn in post three under Junior Alvarado. Risky Rachel, the better supported of the Empire-breds, was third choice at odds of 5-1 under Paco Lopez in post two and assigned 114 pounds.
One of the top four out of the gate, Lovely Lil advanced steadily for the first quarter mile (23.04) and took over a narrow lead, with All Due Respect right at her shoulder under a hold. Risky Rachel, Katy Now (3-1 second choice) and Dutrow’s C C’s Pal (7-1) were up close in the second flight.
After a half-mile run in a brisk 45.96, and closely shadowed by All Due Respect around the far turn, Lovely Lil shook clear in upper stretch, but still had five rivals, including a game All Due Respect breathing down her neck.
All Due Respect continued to fight to the wire, but finished 1 1/4 lengths shy of Lovely Lil. C C’s Pal finished 3/4 lengths further back and a half-length ahead of Katy Now and Risky Rachel, who finished noses apart in fourth and fifth. After three quarters of mile run in 1:10.41, the final time for the mile was 1:36.90, translating into a career-high 90 Beyer Speed Figure for Lovely Lil. [VIDEO]
Trainer Mike Hushion said, “Tactics-wise, I thought everybody might be looking around to see what everybody else was doing. I gave Cornelio [Velasquez] the option if he wanted to take it. Even the favorite stayed off her a little bit down the backside and stayed in a totally different path, so [Lovely Lil] had a chance to relax. The fractions were very quick, and the final time came up good. She ran the race of her life today.”
Winning jockey Cornelio Velasquez, said, “She’s a nice filly. My agent told me the filly had a very big chance. Anytime you ride for Mike Hushion, you have a very big chance. She went to the lead easy. The other horse [All Due Respect] put on a lot of pressure all the way, but at the top of the stretch I had a lot of horse left.”
Lovely Lil, a four-year-old daughter of Tiznow, has compiled a record of 5-2-1 from 11 starts and earned $284,890. Winner of the six-furlong Union Avenue for New York-breds in August at Saratoga, she ran third in the Grade 2, 6 1/2-furlong Foxwoods Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont in September and second in the Iroquois at Belmont on Showcase Day. The Go for Wand was the 2,998th career victory for Cornelio Velasquez.
A Barry K. Schwartz homebred, Lovely Lil is out of is Florida-bred How About Now, a Grade 2-winning sprinter by Pentelicus also campaigned by Schwartz and trained by Hushion. How About Now won the 1996 edition of Saratoga’s Grade 2 Schuylerville and ran third the following year in the Grade 3 Comely at Aqueduct. She retired after three seasons with a record of 15-3-3-2 and $166,376 in earnings.
How About Now has produced 12 foals, nine of them New York-breds. All six to start have won, including War Paint by Devil’s Bag, who was twice stakes-placed at Finger Lakes in 2006 ($265,881), and Sweet Sweet by Honour and Glory, a dual stakes winner ($191,341). Her progeny have now earned over $1 million.
How About Now has an unraced two-year-old filly by Honour and Glory, a yearling filly by Yes It’s True and a weanling colt by Flatter. She was bred this year to Juddmonte stallion First Defence.