Lovely Finish, the filly saved from last year's devastating Lilac fire at San Luis Rey Downs in Southern California, made an emotional return to the races Thursday for the man who saved her.
“It's definitely more than a horse race,” trainer Joe Herrick told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It's like being a soccer dad, times 1,000.”
Lovely Finish fought hard to the wire in the seventh race at Los Alamitos Thursday, hitting the board in third place. She was ridden by Stewart Elliott, who piloted Smarty Jones to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2004.
“I was riding here when I heard about (last December's fire),” Elliott said. “What do you say? It's terrible. And she hasn't raced for a year. Just to get her back and in a race is special.”
Before the fire, Lovely Finish came second in the only other start of her career. In the months after the fire, Herrick has recovered well from severe burns over 23 percent of his body. He lost six horses from his stable in the blaze.
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