James Miller’s Lovely Bernadette enters Saturday’s $ 200,000 Golden Rod (GII) with a three-race win streak that she will put on the line against 11 other 2-year-old fillies in the 1 1/16-mile event at Churchill Downs.
The homebred daughter of Bernardini started her hot streak when she broke her maiden over the Churchill main track on Sept. 17 which she followed up with a 6 ½-furlong allowance win at Keeneland. Most recently, she took the Oct. 30 Rags To Riches Overnight Stakes.
“It’s pretty nice to have a horse like this, there’s no doubt about that,” trainer Jimmy DiVito said by phone. “She’s shown that she can run from the beginning so were hopefully going to be lucky to keep her going, keep her sound and have a nice horse.”
Lovely Bernadette will travel two turns for the first time in the Golden Rod, where she will break from the outside in the 12-hole.
“It’ll be no problem since she’s a pretty versatile filly,” DiVito said. “She can lay close to the pace right there in behind horses or she can sit well off of it. I think that she’s versatile enough to where she can wrap around and not lose so much ground so the post she drew isn’t much of an issue for her either.”
Robby Albarado has been aboard the filly for all three of her wins, and will ride her again in Saturday’s Golden Rod. He won the Golden Rod once before in 2009 with Sassy Image.
Trainer Mark Casse chose to bypass the $ 200,000 Golden Rod (Grade II) with promising 2-year-old filly Valadorna, but will still be represented by John C. Oxley’s Dream Dancing who seeks her first graded stakes win in Saturday’s race at Churchill Downs.
“We’re just going to focus on the races in the spring,” said Casse’s son and top assistant Norman. “Everything’s fine. She breezed well but at the end of the day we just think that she’s a legitimate Kentucky Oaks filly. We didn’t think that the Golden Rod was really necessary.”
Dream Dancing, a homebred daughter of Tapit, is out for her first win since a maiden victory over the Saratoga turf course on Aug. 28. She is in search of her first win on dirt.
“We still think that she deserves a chance to run on the dirt,” Casse said. “If it doesn’t work out Saturday and she doesn’t run well then I think her excuses on the main track are over. But I think she’ll run well. She obviously has a lot of upside on the turf if we need to do that, but for now she deserves another shot on the dirt.”
Since her turf maiden win, she began taking shots at some of the best in the division. She was fourth in the Pocahontas (GII) and finished 5 ½ lengths behind fellow Golden Rod aspirant Daddys Lil Darling and then finished fifth in Keeneland’s Alcibiades (GI).
“Dream Dancing is a horse that I think is a very talented horse,” Casse said. “Her last two races she had some serious excuses. I think she needed the race in the Pocahontas. She had a really tough trip in the Alcibiades. We put the blinkers on, made the switch to put Julien (Leparoux) on her and I think that will suit her a little bit better. She’s been breezing well so were excited to see what she does.”
Leparoux will go for his third Golden Rod win aboard Dream Dancing. He previously won the race aboard Pure Clan in 2007 and Kathmanblu in 2010.
Casse also spoke about promising 2-year-old colt, Hollow Point who finished third behind McCraken in a maiden race on Oct. 2 and runs in Saturday’s finale.
“Hollow Point came out of a really key race in September,” Casse said. “We’ve been looking real forward to get him going so we’re pretty excited about him.”
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