TAMPA — This Saturday is Festival Preview Day from Tampa Bay Downs at Tampa Bay Downs. During the stakes portion of the card, two Illinois-breds will get their chance to show their best.
Lovely Loyree faces graded stakes company for the first time in tomorrow’s Endeavour Stakes (GIII), a mile and a sixteenth turf race for fillies and mares. The daughter of Cactus Ridge, out of the stakes-placed Illinois-bred mare Lil Cora Tee, has been a consistent presence on the Illinois circuit for several seasons now. In 2014, at age three, she won four races and was twice stakes-placed, including against open sophomore fillies in the Hatoof Stakes. It was a resume strong enough to win her Champion Illinois-bred Three Year Old Filly honours. She only raced three times at four, but she finished the year with a decisive victory in the Stickney Handicap. In her five-year-old debut last month, she finished second in a prep allowance at Tampa.
Lovely Loyree has hit the board in her last ten starts, and enters the Endevour in good form. Going out to train this morning, Lovely Loyree looked every bit the classy racemare. Her coat was resplendent, and she was focused on the task at hand. That appearance fit right in hand with how trainer Michele Boyce described her current training. “She came out of her last race good, and she’s definitely moving forward. She’s dappled out. She doesn’t like the dirt, particularly; it’s a very sandy base. But, she handled the turf course very nicely, and she’s fit enough for the distance.”
Still, the mare faces her toughest class test yet in tomorrow’s Endeavour — a race headlined by last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) winner. “There’s one in there who looks like such a standout, Tepin,” remarked Boyce. “There’s no question about that. With the others, with the right racing luck, and depending on how the pace sets up, I think she’s got as good a shot as anybody in there.”
Once race later in the card, Illinois-bred Missalaney faces eleven other three-year-old fillies and mares in a wide-open renewal of the Suncoast Stakes. The race covers a mile and forty yards on the dirt.
Missalaney, a daughter of Badge of Silver out of Sarahcarolu, debuted at Arlington in August. She finished seventh in that polytrack sprint, as well as in a dirt sprint at Hawthorne in October. Missalaney broke her maiden at third asking, going a mile over the Hawthorne grass. It was her first try at a route, and her first on turf. She tracked the pace and kicked clear to win by four and a half authoritative lengths. Her victory caught the betting public unawares — she won at odds of 28/1, and keyed a superfecta carryover. Did it surprise trainer David Hinsley? “Not really,” he noted, “she was bred for it.”
Despite her best race at age two coming over grass, Missalaney was training well over the uniquely sandy Tampa Bay dirt. After an off-the-board finish in a turf allowance there in December, her connections decided to try her in the Gasparilla Stakes last month.
Once again, they knew far better than the betting public. Though Missalaney got away at 42/1, she rallied to cross the wire third, and was the only one closing ground on winner R Girls a Charmer between the stretch call and the wire. “She was coming on late,” Hinsley remarked, and assessed that the return to two turns in the Suncoast would suit his filly well.
“We’ve just got to get lucky,” quipped Hinsley. Given the talent Missalaney has shown so far, if she runs well in the Suncoast Stakes tomorrow, it will be more than just good fortune that gets her to the wire.
Picks & Ponderings also has analysis this weekend of the G3 El Camino Real Derby from Golden Gate Fields and the G3 Southwest Stakes Stakes from Oaklawn for Derby-aiming sophomores.
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