Trainer Larry Rivelli has been a force in Illinois-bred two-year-old stakes races in recent years, and much of that success has come from the progeny of the Five Star Day mare Richiesgirlgotgame. Richiesgirlgotgame started her racing career on fire for Rivelli and owner Richard Ravin. On debut she beat eventual Grade 1 winner Tiz Miz Sue in a maiden special weight, then followed that effort with a third-place finish in the Miss Shenandoah Stakes at Charles Town. Laid off for nine months after that outing, she returned in the claiming ranks. Though Rivelli and Ravin lost her for $10,000 in May of 2010, they got her back in September for $15,000. After racing her twice more, they retired and bred her.
Claiming her back and sending her to the breeding shed has paid rich dividends. Like Richiesgirlgotgame, all of her babies have been fast, precocious juveniles. Her first foal to race, Dom the Bomb, swept the Sun Power Stakes and the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity in 2014. Her second runner, Richie the Bull, captured the Jim Edgar the following year.
Richie'slilwildcat, her third foal to race, became her third stakes winner after a game frontrunning victory this evening in the Showtime Deb Stakes at Hawthorne.
With the trainer's scratch of stablemate Jean Elizabeth, Richie'slilwildcat remained a defined betting favourite through the course of the wagering, and went off the 4/5 favourite. Speed Devil and Strollin the Bayou took moderate interest at the windows, and some late wagering interest on Isabellacannetella pushed her odds into single figures as post time neared.
Though Royal's Position broke on top, Richie'slilwildcat overcame a slightly awkward break and dashed to the lead in the opening strides. Under jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. she opened up a two-length lead. A line of horses chased her into the far turn: Isabellacannetella, Strollin the Bayou, Tumultuous Gal, and Cowgirl Callie.
Approaching the turn for home, Cowgirl Callie emerged to chase Richieslilwildcat best among that stalking flight. Further back, Speed Devil launched an advance up the rail. Speed Devil angled wide into the stretch, green under the stick. Richie'slilwildcat maintained a daylight lead into the final furlong, but she began to show signs of weariness.
Cowgirl Callie gained to her inside. Speed Devil, finding her best after switching leads, advanced sharply outside. Both descended on Richie'slilwildcat, but the pacesetter dug in and found the wire in time to hold half a length safe from Speed Devil. Cowgirl Callie got home another neck back in third, with another 3 3/4 lengths back to Isabellacannetella. Strollin the Bayou, Tumultuous Gal, Royal's Position, Romantic Attack, and Hide the Honey completed the order of finish. Jean Elizabeth was a trainer's scratch; after the race, trainer Larry Rivelli noted a pair of factors leading to the scratch. He stated that she had been fighting some shin issues and also that he did not want to run Richie'slilwildcat and Jean Elizabeth against each other since they both have frontrunning styles.
Richie'slilwildcat stopped the timer in 1:10.96 for six furlongs over fast dirt, and paid $3.60 to win. The exacta with Speed Devil second (7-2) returned $6.90 for a $1 wager. A $0.20 trifecta with Cowgirl Callie third (7-2-9) came back with $8.94. The superfecta with Isabellacannetella in the lowest rung (7-2-9-3) paid $45.22 for each $0.20 base bet.
Richie'slilwildcat is a two-year-old filly by Wildcat Heir out of Richiesgirlgotgame. Bred in Illinois by Richard Ravin and Larry Rivelli, Richie'slilwildcat is campaigned by her breeders in addition to Vince Foglia's V-Leaf Stables. The victory was Richie'slilwildcat's third in five career starts, and her first in stakes company. The $45,000 winner's share of the purse brought her career earnings into six figures, to $106,510.
After the race, Jose Valdivia praised her ability to overcome a rough beginning, as well as show heart at the end."She was moving around the gate a little bit; she didn't get the cleanest of breaks, but she recovered nicely. I think I was able to get a nice little breather around the turn, just enough to hold them off. It's a very long stretch. I knew it was going to be close, but the closer we got, they hadn't gotten to me...she's just game. She tries. She might have a little bit of distance limitation -- I think five and a half, five-eighths, but she's game."
After the race, trainer Larry Rivelli concurred with the possibility that Richie'slilwildcat may have distance limitations. After the race, Rivelli stated that he does plan to run a horse in the 1 1/16-mile Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante on December 2, but has not yet decided whether he will run Richie'slilwildcat or Jean Elizabeth there. "I might run Jean Elizabeth in the Pat Whitworth if I can keep her going -- I definitely don't think [Richie'slilwildcat] should get the distance."
Yet there is precedent for Richie'slilwildcat's siblings to defy their pedigrees in two-turn stakes at Hawthorne. Half-brothers Dom the Bomb and Richie the Bull are both by sprint sires: Bring the Heat and Richie the Bull, respectively. Yet, both carried their class to victory in the 1 1/16 mile Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity.
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