10/22/2011 2:44PM

Belmont Park: Risky Rachel rewards owner's patience in Iroquois

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Risky Rachel rolls to a 2 1/4-length victory in the $125,000 Iroquois Stakes at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Persistence and patience paid off handsomely for owner/breeder Sanford Bacon in Saturday’s $125,000 Iroquois Stakes at Belmont Park.

Risky Rachel, whom Bacon was told wouldn’t make it back to the races due to suspensory ligament issues, took advantage of a speed duel that did in favorite Lovely Lil and rolled to a 2 1/4-length victory in the Iroquois. Lovely Lil, the 6-5 favorite, finished second, 2 1/2 lengths clear of Spa City Princess.

It was the third win from four starts for Risky Rachel since coming back from an 13-month layoff. Risky Rachel became the first stakes winner from seven foals produced by the Grade 3 stakes-winning mare Dancin Renee, whom Bacon also bred and raced.

Under Javier Castellano, Risky Rachel stalked the pace from third as Lovely Lil dueled with Sentimental Lass and then Those Lion Eyes through a half-mile in 46.37 seconds.

In upper stretch, Risky Rachel confronted Lovely Lil, under Ramon Dominguez, and then gradually pulled away in the stretch. Risky Rachel, trained by James Bond, covered seven furlongs in 1:23.14 and returned $7.50 as the second choice.

“Ramon decided to go to the lead, he hooked up with the other speed and it worked out great for me,” Castellano said. “Ramon was my target. Turning for home I had plenty of horse. I let her go and she had good acceleration.”

Risky Rachel, a daughter of Limehouse, had won one of her first starts before developing a suspensory ligament problem. The issue wasn’t as severe as initially diagnosed and Bacon and his staff – which included Lisa McGreevy of Abbie Road Farm – put in over a year getting the horse back to the races.

“She’s special because she’s named after my granddaughter,” Bacon said. “My granddaughter Rachel named her Risky Rachel. She’s special on the basis that she deserves what she’s got.”