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Sweet Loretta Overcomes Slow Start to Win G3 Schuylerville

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Overcoming a slow start, Sweet Loretta swept past the leaders in the stretch under Saratoga’s all-time leading rider, Hall of Famer John Velazquez, and drew off to win the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes on Friday’s Opening Day at Saratoga Race Course.

Sweet Loretta broke last in the field of eight 2-year-old fillies and was well back through the opening stages, which may have worked to her benefit as 23-1 longshot Inspired Flight rocketed to the lead through blazing fractions of 21.68 and 44.79 seconds.

Inspired Flight lost the lead to 8-5 favorite Made Me Shiver turning for home, but the latter’s advantage was short-lived, as Sweet Loretta powered up on the outside and drew away through the final furlong to score by 4 ¼ lengths.

Fun and Harlands Thunder ran on late to wind up second and third, as Made Me Shiver grew leg-weary and just held fourth over 7-2 second choice Olive Branch.

“She ran well,” said Velazquez, who surpassed the 800 victory mark at the Spa last year. “Winning at Saratoga never gets old – every time you come here and win a race, it’s always special. 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, give her a chance and let her run down the lane, and that’s what she did.”

Sweet Loretta ran six furlongs over a fast track in 1:10.89 seconds, and earned $90,000 for St. Elias Stable as she improved her record to 2-for-2.

A $750,000 daughter of Tapit, Sweet Loretta was a record sixth Schuylerville winner for trainer Todd Pletcher. The final time, though well off the stakes record of 1:09.80, was the race’s fastest since the Pletcher-trained Georgie’s Angel won in 1:10.68 seconds in 2011.

“She came to us early at Palm Meadows and she showed some quality,” said Pletcher. “We didn’t know what she ran against [in her maiden race] at Monmouth, but we liked the way she did it. She looked like she did it with something in reserve, but we knew this was a big step up in class. I told Johnny 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 dirt as well. She kept gaining ground in the early part of the race and put herself in a good position coming off the turn.”

The order of finish was completed by Summer Sally, Lightning Dove and Inspired Flight.

Schuylerville (G3) Quotes

Todd Pletcher, winning trainer of Sweet Loretta (No. 4): “She came to us early at Palm Beach Downs and she showed some quality. When she was getting ready to run, we felt like she was doing well at Palm Beach Downs so we sent her to the team in Monmouth. They did a great job with her.

“We didn’t know what she ran against [in her maiden race] at Monmouth but we liked the way she did it. 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.”

John Velazquez, winning jockey aboard Sweet Loretta (No. 4): “She ran well. 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.

“Winning at Saratoga never gets old. Every time you come here and win a race, it’s always special.”

Ian Wilkes, runner-up trainer of Fun (No. 8): “I’m very happy with her performance. I’m going to enjoy a drink with [owner] Dennis [Farkas] tonight and we’ll decide where we go after that with her.”

Junior Alvarado, runner-up jockey aboard Fun (No. 8): “I got a good trip. I was behind the winner the whole way. I guess I couldn’t catch him. I thought I was second-best. She broke OK with the rest of them and I wasn’t expecting anything else. I wanted to break a little off the pace and she allowed me to do that. When I asked, she was there for me.”

NYRA

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