LOUISVILLE, KY – Lovely Bernadette’s late burst of speed was more than enough to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill Downs. This was the first win for the four-year-old since the G2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill last November and her third career graded stakes victory.
The early leader in the 1 1/16 mile race on the turf was Sully’s Dream, who was followed closely by Youngest Daughter. The pair together set early fractions of :23.38 and :46.39 with the rest of the field content to sit back and wait. As they entered the second turn the gap between the leaders and the rest of the field decreased as pressure was put on Sully’s Dream. Celestial Insight was the first to make a strong move as she came three-wide out of the turn to take the lead into the stretch. But it was Lovely Bernadette who came up on the outside of Celestial Insight with a strong late burst of speed that was able to hit the wire first. Celestial Insight finished a strong second followed by Inchargeofme, Sully’s Dream, Res Ipsa.
“We were a little far back up the backstretch,” jockey Corey Lanerie said. “I thought the horses up front were going pretty fast but I didn’t anticipate being that far out of it. When I asked her to go at first she didn’t respond right away but when we turned for home she really kicked it into gear.”
Trainer Bernie Flint seemed ecstatic with Lovely Bernadette’s performance, “She came to our barn after her last start in the Jenny Wiley (GI) at Keeneland and has been training great into this race. I knew she’d run a good race and it would just become a jockey’s race if we were able to get there. I’m very proud of her effort.”
Lovely Bernadette returned $7.60 to win, $4.80 to place, and $3.60 to show. Celestial Insight brought back $8.40 to place and $5.20 to show, while Inchargeofme paid $6.40 to show.