01/05/2013 7:01PM

Fair Grounds: Lovely Vin proves in Dixie Poker Ace he doesn't need early lead to win

Hodges Photography/Jamie Hernandez
Lovely Vin (left), ridden by Rosie Napravnik, prepares to blow past pacesetter Sunay's Child as the horses turn for home in the Dixie Poker Ace.

Not only does Lovely Vin seem to be getting better race by race, he also appears to be getting smarter.

Lovely Vin’s two wins and two seconds since owner Maggi Moss claimed him for $20,000 last summer all came via pacesetting trips. Saturday, in the Dixie Poker Ace at Fair Grounds, Lovely Vin rated patiently in second while the filly Sunday’s Child led. When jockey Rosie Napravnik asked him to go, Lovely Vin quickly overhauled Sunday’s Child at the top of the stretch, going on to a 5 ¼-length romp in the $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace for Louisiana-bred grass horses.

Lovely Vin, a 4-year-old son of Vindication, has panned out smartly for Moss and trainer Tom Amoss. He won one dirt allowance race at Hoosier Park and finished second in another such race there before turning his focus to the Fair Grounds turf. Lovely Vin narrowly won a second-level Louisiana-bred allowance race opening weekend of this meet, then finished a good second in the Champions Day Turf behind String King, who was held out of Saturday’s race with an eye toward open turf stakes later this meet.  

With String King away, Lovely Vin had no real challenger Saturday, especially when Sadie’s Soldier had to be checked sharply into the first turn, falling far behind what appeared to be a moderate pace on a course rated soft. The Fair Grounds timer didn’t properly start and the race was hand-time, with Sunday’s Child setting splits of about 25 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 50 seconds for the opening half. Lovely Vin was given a final clocking of about one mile in 1:39.76. Sunday’s Child narrowly held second over Sadie’s Soldier, who rallied wide to just miss the place.