01/07/2012 4:40PM

Aqueduct: Captivating Lass perseveres to reel in Sweet Seventeen

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Barbara D. Livingston
Captivating Lass (left) wears down Sweet Seventeen in deep stretch to take the Busanda.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Turning for home in Saturday’s $100,000 Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct, it was already evident that Captivating Lass was going to run better than she had in her previous start. It just wasn’t clear if she was going to run good enough to win.

But under a persevering ride from Mike Luzzi and with the front-running 4-5 favorite Sweet Seventeen failing to switch to her proper lead in the stretch, Captivating Lass reeled in Sweet Seventeen in the final yards to win the Busanda by a neck. It was 4 1/4 lengths back to Lady Clara in third. She was followed in the order of finish by Terralba, Bourbonstreetgirl, and The Winged Venus. Almost a Valentine scratched.

The win was the second in three starts for Captivating Lass, who won her debut at Parx Racing on Oct. 2 before finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct when she was far off the slow early pace.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin equipped Captivating Lass with blinkers and put her on Lasix for the first time and both seemed to help.

“I think so,” assistant trainer Art Magnuson said when asked if the blinkers helped. “I saw Mike give her a little reminder down the backside. She wanted to maybe pull herself off the pace a little more, he kept her in contention. On this track it’s important, so that was a great ride.”

Captivating Lass raced in second position while Sweet Seventeen, who had a little trouble handling the first turn under Ramon Dominguez, set slow fractions of 24.80 seconds for the quarter, 49.69 for the half-mile, and 1:14.36 for six furlongs.

Sweet Seventeen opened up a two-length lead in mid-stretch but was struggling a little bit because she was racing on her left lead and didn’t switch. Meanwhile, Luzzi stayed busy on Captivating Lass, who collared the pacesetting 4-5 favorite with less than 50 yards to go to get the victory. Captivating Lass, a daughter of A.P. Indy bred and owned by Darley Stable, covered the mile and 70 yards in 1:43.74 and returned $5.80 as the second choice.

“She was underneath me but just not completely dragging me,” Luzzi said. “It was a little impressive to me because I don’t think she gave me 100 percent. I think she left something out there. She did gallop out pretty strong. I would think that race wouldn’t take a lot out of her because she didn’t give me everything.”

Dominguez said despite Sweet Seventeen’s inability to switch leads, he thought his filly ran well.

“I took a peek back, I saw the other filly coming, I kept after her and it felt like she was really picking it up and giving me an honest run,” Dominguez said. “The other filly just outran her today.”

The McLaughlin/Darley combination has had a lot of success with 3-year-old fillies running here in the winter and going on to do bigger and better things later on. Seventh Street, Little Belle, and It’s Tricky all won races over the inner track before becoming Grade 1 winners.

Magnuson said it hasn’t been determined if Captivating Lass would stay in New York or ship to south Florida. The next stakes for 3-year-old fillies in New York is the $75,000 Busher Stakes on Feb. 25.