04/07/2013 6:26PM

Golden Gate Fields: Ex-claimer Luscious Lonna carries speed to Golden Poppy upset

Vassar Photography
Luscious Lonna, ridden by Jesus Velazquez, proves uncatchable as she gives trainer Nick Sloan his first career stakes victory in the Golden Poppy.

Luscious Lonna, a $6,250 claim in March 2012, became trainer Nick Sloan's first stakes winner as she wired a field of 11 fillies and mares, including four from trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's barn, in the $61,350 Golden Poppy at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday.

"This is the first horse I've ever had run above the claiming level," said Sloan of the first stakes entrant in his career.

Luscious Lonna ($26.80) had 4 wins and a pair of seconds in her past 6 starts against claiming and allowance company heading into the race.

The speedy 5-year-old Luscious Lonna drew the rail. She broke sharply and bounded to the lead under Jesus Velazquez. She relaxed nicely while running evenly and pulled away in the stretch to beat Lady Aspen, who had beaten her in their previous two meetings, by 2 1/2 lengths, winning the 1 1/16-mile turf race in 1:45.86. Halo Dolly, the even-money favorite was third, another one-half length back.

"When I saw the early splits, I was a little uncomfortable,” said Sloan, referring to fractions of 24.37 and 49.39 seconds. “But when I saw 1:14.29, I felt better.”

"I thought they were going to put more pressure on me, but they let me go by myself," said Velazquez. "She relaxed, and, when I asked her at the top of the stretch, she responded."

The victory was worth $39,550 for owners Jon Harris, Bonnie Marshall, and Sloan. The victory was the seventh in 11 starts for Luscious Lonna, who has now earned $150,025.

Hollendorfer trains Lady Aspen, Halo Dolly, Cathy's Crunches, who finished seventh, and Going for a Spin, who finished 10th. He was tied with King Leatherbury for fourth on the all-time list of trainers with 6,375 victories going into the race.