Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider’s homebred Lull returned to the site of her only stakes win to date on Saturday to add a second black-type victory to her resume.
The daughter of War Front bounded home over the firm turf at Kentucky Downs for a two-length win in the $348,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. The duo teamed up last year at the track to take the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies by 1 1/4 lengths.
In Saturday’s contest, Lull stalked the early pace set by Corby through splits of :23.48 and :48.15 along the inside before angling out for the stretch run. The bay sophomore miss briefly battled with Corby and Morticia, who had pressed the leader on the backstretch, before grabbing command to finish 6 1/2 grassy furlongs in 1:17.22.
Sent off the 3-1 second choice, Lull paid $8 for her first win since last year’s stakes victory. Happy Mesa got up at 20-1 to stick her neck in front of 3-1 favorite Morticia on the wire, with Fair Point was another neck back in fourth. Corby followed in fifth and completing the order of finish were Mississippi Delta, Miss Gossip, Sea Cloud, Scatter Gun and Marquee Miss.
Lull is now 9-3-3-0, $598,057, in her career. The Christophe Clement trainee followed last year’s Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies win with a second in the Jessamine Stakes (G3) at Keeneland before closing out her two-year-old campaign with a nice fourth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Lull opened 2017 with a subpar seventh in the Appalachian Stakes (G3) at Keeneland on April 13, but returned to form with a nose second in the Soaring Softly Stakes. She entered this spot off a runner-up effort in the San Clemente Handicap (G2) at Del Mar on July 23.
The Kentucky-bred filly is out of the Tiznow mare Quiet Now, who is a half-sister to Horse of the Year and successful sire Saint Liam as well as Grade 2 victress Quiet Giant, herself the dam of multiple Grade 1 winner and current Horse of the Year candidate Gun Runner.
Lull counts as a half-sibling multiple stakes-placed Irsaal.
KENTUCKY DOWNS LADIES SPRINT QUOTES
Brian Hernandez, jockey Lull, winner
“Horses like her who are athletic, they tend to like this place. Makes my job a lot easier. I can stay out of her way and let her do her thing. Her trip worked out perfect today, like I kind of scripted on paper.”
Rudy Nerbonne, assistant trainer Lull, winner
“She likes the course, she likes the distance, too – 6 1/2 furlongs. Today she relaxed perfect, and she made good run. Congratulations to Claiborne Farm and everybody.”
Claiborne Farm President Walker Hancock, owner Lull, winner
“Shortened her up, and it looks like she likes the one turn. She obviously loves it here at Kentucky Downs, and we couldn’t be more pleased with her.
“We got her stakes win this year now, so maybe we’ll get a little more aggressive and see if we can shoot for something big. We’ll talk to (trainer) Christophe (Clement) about it, Ms. (Adele) Dilschneider and everybody else.
“Six or seven is probably her perfect distance, but we’ll have talk to Christophe about (whether to run her in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint [G1] at Del Mar on November 4).”
Dell Hancock, one of Claiborne’s owners and Walker’s aunt
“I think War Fronts like to hear their feet rattle, and this turf probably suits her really well. I asked Craig Fravel (president of the Breeders’ Cup) when they’re going to run the Breeders’ Cup here.”
Mike Maker, trainer Susie Bee, second
“She ran great. Second best. On the turn I thought, ‘Boy, if she gets out, she’s going to be right there.’ And she got in the clear. Obviously the other horse was loaded for bear.”