07/16/2016 8:54PM

Lovely Loyree turns tables on Cash Control in Distaff

Coady Photography
Lovely Loyree, ridden by Fernando de la Cruz, owns a daylight lead in the stretch that diminished to a neck at the wire of the Indiana General Assembly Distaff.

SHELBYVILLE, Indiana -- Lovely Loyree got a lovely pace-pressing trip under Fernando De La Cruz and won the $103,300 Indiana General Assembly Distaff by a neck over heavily favored Cash Control on Saturday night at Indiana Grand Race Course.

Things were less rosy for Cash Control, the odds-on favorite who got trapped in the pocket the entire trip, jockey Shaun Bridgmohan unable to extricate his mount until it was too late.

“You always hate to lose one when you’re 4-5,” said trainer Brad Cox.

Trainer Michele Boyce, meanwhile, was wondering why De La Cruz took a hold of Lovely Loyree, who is comfortable setting the pace, through a posted first quarter-mile in slightly less than  26 seconds. The pace actually was much faster. Turf timing turned into an adventure of its own right in the two grass stakes Saturday evening, and the chart-callers hand-timed the fractions as 23.03 and 47.38 seconds. De la Cruz went for home at the top of the homestretch, Lovely Loyree opened a 1 1/2-length lead at the stretch call, and needed most of that advantage as Cash Control bridged the gap in the final furlong.

“She’s got a lot of natural speed,” said Boyce. “Fortunately she doesn’t mind laying a little bit off of the pace, too.”

Lovely Loyree lost by a neck to Cash Control when the two met in a Churchill Downs allowance race last September. That was Lovely Loyree’s first race back from nearly a year layoff,  and the mare really only hit peak form starting with that loss to Cash Control. Lovely Loyree, an Illinois-bred 5-year-old, twice faced mighty Tepin over the winter at Tampa Bay Downs, and had not been embarrassed. Boyce gave her a freshening following a third-place finish in the Hillsborough Stakes in March, and said before Lovely Loyree returned to action in the Mike Spellman Memorial for Illinois-breds last month at Arlington that her horse’s preparation had not been ideal, and that Lovely Loyree might not be at her best. She wasn’t, finishing second as the 2-5 favorite, but that race evidently had her spot on for this one.

Lovely Loyree, owned by a partnership, is by Cactus Ridge and out of the Lil E. Tee mare Lil Cora Tee, whom Boyce also trained. She ran her career record to an impressive 17-6-4-5 has never been worse than third in 14 starts on grass. Lovely Loyree paid $10.20 to win and was hand-timed in 1:40.80 for 1 1/16 miles over firm turf. Annulment, an 11-1 shot, rallied for third.