Lovely Loyree wins Indiana General Assembly Distaff

Lovely Loyree and Indiana Grand’s leading jockey Fernando De La Cruz sat patiently on the outside of pacesetter Cabana and Luis Saez before taking control of the race and blazing home for the victory in the eighth running of the $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff, a Listed race on the Indiana Derby Night racing program. The win for Lovely Loyree was making her first start at Indiana Grand during the one and one-sixteenth mile turf race.

Lovely Loyree started from post six in the nine horse field and showed just enough early speed to meet up with race favorites Cash Control and Shaun Bridgmohan as the field moved in front of the grandstand the first time. Cash Control was willing to sit back and let others take the lead, and Cabana from post seven was willing to move into the lead position before the first turn. De La Cruz sat Lovely Loyree to the outside and kept his filly under wraps through modest fractions of :23.03, :47.38 and 1:11.16.

In the final turn, Lovely Loyree was asked for more speed and she delivered, hitting top gear at the top of the stretch. The five-year-old daughter of Cactus Ridge moved ahead by one and one-half lengths, making it difficult on her opponents to catch up. Once Cash Call shook free and had racing room, she made a move to catch Lovely Loyree but her efforts were too late. Lovely Loyree was the winner by a neck at the wire over Cash Call. Annulment and Robby Albarado also used a late kick to move up for third.

“That was the plan, to put her (Lovely Loyree) in the clearest part and in position and wait until the straight,” said De La Cruz. “It was a slow pace on the lead, and we were just waiting, waiting and in the stretch took off. She got a little tired but she hung around to the wire.”

Lovely Loyree paid $10.20, $4.20 and $3.20 across the board for the win. The mare is owned by Martin Nixon’s Feel the Thunder Stable, Margaret Burlingham’s Oak Rock Racing, LLC and Terry Biondo. Michele Boyce trains the Arlington Park shipper. It was also a chance for Lovely Loyree to turn the tables on Cash Control after losing an allowance race to her by neck at Churchill Downs last fall.

“I thought I rode a very smart race we were just a victim of circumstances,” said Bridgmohan of Cash Control. “There was no pace to run at and the horse that won it (Lovely Loyree) just got the jump on her and was able to hold her off. I thought my filly tried really hard, though.”

It was the second career stakes win for Lovely Loyree and the first of 2016. The final time of the race was 1:40.80. The Illinois bred mare now has in excess of $156,000 in career earnings for Boyce, who is now in her 21st year as a trainer.

“There was a race comparable last week at Arlington, the Modesty, which is graded,” said Boyce. “She’s run twice graded-placed. Being at home had a lot of temptation for me to stay there. But looking at the race, I was hoping she’d handle this turf course and Fernando knew her, so I said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ I like this distance better and I like Indiana.”

Boyce recognized the pace of the race was not as quick as expected. Boyce did not instruct De La Cruz on the race before she legged him up on Lovely Loyree.

“The filly on the lead (Cabana) looked very comfortable running where she was, and a lot of them were sitting right behind her ready to pounce, too,” said Boyce. “He (De La Cruz) got good position and the good Lord smiled on us. I was very surprised. (I told De La Cruz) ‘You’re the inside speed.’ And in her race at Arlington, she backed up at the break and probably lost three lengths. She’s got a lot of natural speed. Fortunately she doesn’t mind laying a little bit off of the pace too.”