St. Elias Stable's Sweet Loretta skipped home the 4 1/4-length winner of the 2016 Saratoga meeting's first graded stakes race, the G3 Schuylerville. The juvenile daughter of Tapit covered six furlongs in 1:10.89 under John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher.
“We didn't know what she ran against [in her maiden race] at Monmouth but we liked the way she did it,” Pletcher noted. “She looked like she did it with something in reserve but we knew this was a big step up in class. I told Johnny [Velazquez] in the paddock, 'I don't think she's as quick as some of these other fillies, just don't rush her off her feet. Give her a chance to get her legs underneath her.' It actually probably worked in her favor that she didn't break well. They went fast early but she ran professionally; she ran into the dirt well. She kept gaining ground in the early part of the race and put herself in a good position coming off the turn.”
Out of the gate, Sweet Loretta was about a half-step slow, leaving her last in the field of eight 2-year-old fillies. Velazquez didn't panic, guiding his mount toward the rail, moving her up into sixth position, and waiting out a speed duel on the front end. While Olive Branch broke the quickest with favorite Made Me Shiver right alongside, it was longshot Inspired Flight who split between those two to jump out to a one-length lead. She sped through a first quarter in :21.68 and a half-mile in :44.79 before fading sharply at the top of the lane.
Made Me Shiver was still there right behind the leader, and took over at the top of the lane with Olive Branch struggling to keep pace behind her. Sweet Loretta was rolling along four-wide from the rear of the field, and with an eighth of a mile to go, she moved alongside Made Me Shiver. Sweet Loretta found a brief challenge, then galloped past her rival, drawing away to win by 4 1/4 lengths. Fun closed very well from second-last to finish second, just in front of Harlands Thunder in third. Made Me Shiver maintained the slightest advantage over Olive Branch to hold on for fourth.
“She ran well,” said Velazquez. “Obviously there's a lot of speed but the track was a little slow. But it worked out my way. She did everything well. I talked to Todd [Pletcher] in the paddock before the race and he told me she breaks well, [so] give her a chance and let her run down the lane and that's what she did.”
Bred in Kentucky by Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stables, Sweet Loretta was a $750,000 Keeneland November purchase as a weanling. She is out of a stakes-placed daughter of Bluegrass Cat, and her second dam, who was sired by Unbridled, threw five winners from six starters at the time of her purchase. The Schuylerville is Sweet Loretta's first graded stakes victory, and her second lifetime win from two starts, bringing her earnings up to $110,000.
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