James M. Miller’s Lovely Bernadette rallied from last to score a half-length victory in Sunday’s fourth running of the $82,340 Rags to Riches Overnight Stakes on opening day of Churchill Downs’ 21-day Fall Meet.
Ridden by Robby Albarado and trained by Jimmy DiVito, Lovely Bernadette was unhurried into stride and trailed the field of seven 2-year-olds fillies in the early stages of the one-mile race as Naughty Little Nun led through the first quarter mile in :22.55 before 6-5 favorite Sailor’s Valentine took over at the half in :45.37.
Lovely Bernadette commenced her winning move by rallying wide on the final turn and grabbed the lead with an eighth of a mile to run and turned back a late challenge by China Grove, who was bottled in traffic in deep stretch but altered out late to get second, one length ahead of Farrell, who was third.
“She’s one of those horses that’s push-button,” DiVito said. “She relaxes, she doesn’t get on the bridle and she doesn’t try to run away with you the first part of the race so that helps her relax and finish well. The fast pace always helps when you have a come-from-behind horse like her.”
Lovely Bernadette covered the mile on a fast track in 1:36.51 and earned $50,021 for her connections. She paid $7.80, $4.60 and $3 as the 5-2 second betting choice. China Grove, ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $8.20 and $4. Farrell, with Channing Hill up, paid $2.80.
Sailor’s Valentine, Holiday’s Angel, Maluku and Naughty Little Nun completed the order of finish. My Sweet Stella was scratched.
“I just rode her with a lot of confidence today,” Albarado said. “I rode her in her two previous starts and she was very impressive. Everything that came out of her previous races came back and won. She’s a nice filly.”
Lovely Bernadette, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Wilburn out of the Bernstein mare Inlovewithlove, has won her last three races and improved her record to 4-3-0-1—$115,837. She previously had triumphs at Keeneland and Churchill Downs following a third-place run in her career debut on the synthetic Polytrack surface at Arlington Park.
Her next start is expected to come in the $200,000 Golden Rod (Grade II) over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 26.
RAGS TO RICHES QUOTES
JIMMY DIVITO, trainer of LOVELY BERNADETTE (winner): “I didn’t think that she would have any problems going further in distance. She comes from behind and has a real nice way of relaxing going down the backside and (jockey) Robby (Albarado) did the rest. She’s one of those horses that’s push-button. She relaxes, she doesn’t get on the bridle and she doesn’t try to run away with you the first part of the race so that helps her relax and finish well. The fast pace always helps when you have a come-from-behind horse like her.”
Q: Will she run in the ($200,000) Golden Rod (GII) at the end of the meet? “That’s the plan, hopefully we can get through that and everything goes well.”
ROBBY ALBARADO jockey of LOVELY BERNADETTE (winner): “There seemed to be some speed in the race. You never know with these 2-year-olds. For a lot of them it’s their first time going this far so you never know who wants to go that far. I just rode her with a lot of confidence today. I rode her in her two previous starts and she was very impressive. Everything that came out of her previous races came back and won. She’s a nice filly.”
BEN COLEBROOK, trainer of CHINA GROVE (runner-up): “I thought she ran super. The one-horse (Lovely Bernadette) ran great, but she kind of got first run and cleared. Julien (Leparoux on China Grove) kind of got bottled-up. It was not bad, but he had to wait and it might have made a little difference. But she ran great anyway and the winner is obviously a nice filly. We’ll see how she comes out of it, but we have no plans with her yet.