Friday, February 9, 2018
OLDSMAR – Tampa Bay Downs trainer Michele Boyce says her 7-year-old mare Lovely Loyree will tell her when it’s time to leave the racetrack. Judging by the way she’s acted this winter, that day isn’t coming any time soon.
The Illinois-bred Lovely Loyree, who breezed 6 furlongs Sunday in 1:15.20 under Daniel Centeno, is one of eight entrants for Saturday's Gr. III, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour, which is the ninth race on the Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South card. She will break from the No. 5 post.
“I just hope I’m not overmatching her,” said Boyce, knowing full well Lovely Loyree will need an outstanding effort to compete against the likes of Group/Grade I winners Dona Bruja and La Coronel. “There are some really nice fillies in there, and I have no prep races in her, which makes me feel as if I might not have her quite as tight as I would like her.”
On the flip side, Lovely Loyree will enter the starting gate with fresh legs, having last raced at September in Arlington. And Boyce is also buoyed by the outcome the previous times Lovely Loyree raced at Tampa Bay Downs two years ago, when she finished third in both the Lambholm South Endeavour and the Gr. II Hillsborough Stakes, both won by that year’s Eclipse Award-winning Grass Female, Tepin.
“When you’re on the board against Tepin, it’s a mark of accomplishment,” Boyce said, chuckling at the memory. “She’s as good a racehorse as you’ll see in many a year. “(Lovely Loyree) put in a good effort in those races. I don’t know if she still has that ability, but she’s training well, and I’m very happy with that. I just haven’t had enough opportunity this year to run her.”
Lovely Loyree, who will be ridden by Centeno, is owned by Boyce’s Cherrywood Racing Stables II in partnership with Marty Nixon’s Feel The Thunder Stable, Margaret Burlingham’s Oak Rock Racing and Terry Biondo. In addition to her two graded-stakes placings here, she has won stakes at Hawthorne, Indiana Grand and Arlington. The daughter of Cactus Ridge prefers to run on or near the lead, and has a lifetime mark of seven victories, four seconds and five thirds from 19 starts, with earnings of $293,948. All but three of her starts have come on turf, where she is 6-for-16 with one out-of-the-money finish.
Boyce, who has saddled more than 500 winners, won the 2006 Grade III Hawthorne Derby on the turf with Best of Buddies for breeder-owner Barr Three, LLC, also the breeder of Lovely Loyree. She also trained Saint Leon, who raced until age 10 and won three consecutive editions of the Arlington Sprint Stakes from 2012-2014.
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