SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Courtlandt Farms’ My Miss Lilly had to battle the length of the stretch against two very game foes, but the expensive yearling purchase rewarded her owners with a final late push to take a tight running of Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct.
Breaking from post 6 under Joe Bravo, My Miss Lilly sat off the early pace set by Sara Street through initial splits of :23.97, :48.31, and 1:13.26. Coming under a drive off the far turn, My Miss Lilly hooked up with Sara Street, with Virginia Key soon sandwiched between them, for a closely-run stretch drive while only heads apart. In the shadow of the wire, My Miss Lilly pulled ahead to win by a 1/2-length in a final time of 1:50.42 for the 1 1/8-mile main track event.
“It was the first time I was able to sit on her, and she did everything correctly,” said Bravo. “I don’t think distance is going to hurt her. She’s bred to go long. I think she had (Sara Street and Virginia Key) beat. I don’t think she’s the kind of filly who is going to want to draw off.”
Sara Street won the photo for second, finishing a neck past Virginia Key. The 8-5 favorite Midnight Disguise never found her footing and finished a distant fourth, 13 lengths behind the lead trio. Mo Shopping and Smokinpaddylassie completed the order of finish.
The Gazelle is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. My Miss Lilly earned 100 points for the win, with Sara Street receiving 40 for second, Virginia Key 20 for third, and Midnight Disguise 10 for fourth.
My Miss Lilly’s win was her first since her maiden-breaking debut here on December 23. The Mark Hennig-trained 3-year-old daughter of Tapit improved her record to 4-2-0-2 with career earnings of $255,400.
“She’s a filly we’ve always been looking forward to getting around two turns,” Hennig said. “Her dam’s side indicates sprint, but she’s all Tapit. She’s a big, long-legged Tapit, just dying to run two turns. We felt like getting around two turns was going to happen for her at a mile and 1/8.”
My Miss Lilly returned $7.90 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.60 to show. Sara Street brought back $6.60 to place and $4.30 to show, while Virginia Key paid $7.60 to show.