10/11/2017 1:16PM

Lull intrigues on the cutback in Franklin County

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Reed Palmer Photography/Kentucky Downs
Lull (#5) won her last outing in the 6 1/2-furlong Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – It’s been a while since she raced as short as 5 1/2 furlongs, but Lull shouldn’t mind the turn-back when part of a full field of 12 Friday in the Grade 3 Franklin County Stakes at Keeneland.

“She’s cutting back, but she’s been very consistent regardless of distance, that’s for sure,” said jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., who will don the famed Claiborne Farm orange silks when he gets a leg up on Lull for the ninth of 10 Friday races. “Coming off her last race, I’ve got to go in there with a lot of confidence.”

Lull won the 6 1/2-furlong Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint when facing older fillies and mares for the first time in her most recent start, giving her a record of two wins and two seconds in the four races Hernandez has been aboard. Trained by Christophe Clement for Claiborne and Adele Dilschneider, the bay homebred has raced mostly at longer distances, but her turn of foot and versatility should make her a major player when she breaks from post 6 against older horses again Friday.

Another 3-year-old, Morticia (post 7, Jose Lezcano), figures as one of the chief threats to Lull in this 21st running of the $100,000 Franklin County. Third as a lukewarm favorite in the Sept. 9 KD Ladies Sprint, the speedy filly already is a four-time stakes winner from just eight career starts.

Among the other top contenders are Miss Ella (post 1, Feargal Lynch), winner of this race last fall for trainer Graham Motion; Kasuga (post 4, Julien Leparoux), also a last-out winner at Kentucky Downs after being transferred into the care of Bill Mott; and Justa Lady (post 2, Ricardo Santana Jr.), winner of an ungraded turf sprint stake on the Sept. 9 Super Derby card for trainer Steve Asmussen.

First post for this Friday the 13th card is the usual 1:05 p.m. Eastern, with the feature going at 5:30. After rain here for several days, the forecast for Thursday through the weekend called for sunny skies.

The Franklin County is part of a late pick four (races 7-10) with a pool guarantee of $200,000.

A jockey autograph session to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund starts at 11:30.

KEY CONTENDERS

Lull, by War Front
Last 3 Beyers: 91-89-85

◗ Prior to her Kentucky Downs triumph, she was beaten a nose by Morticia in a seven-furlong turf stakes at Belmont in May before finishing second in the Grade 2 San Clemente going a mile at Del Mar.

Morticia, by Twirling Candy
Last 3 Beyers: 86-85-85

◗ This handy bay filly was co-bred by owner G. Watts Humphrey and trainer Rusty Arnold, who are still flying high after winning the Grade 1 Spinster here on Sunday with Romantic Vision.

Miss Ella, by Exchange Rate
Last 3 Beyers: 69-93-94

◗ This 5-year-old mare is a two-time stakes winner at Keeneland, having won the 2015 Beaumont on dirt some 18 months before her neck victory over Fair Point in the 2016 Franklin County.