08/24/2013 3:59PM

Saratoga: Sweet Lulu digs deep to triumph in Test

Michael Amoruso
Sweet Lulu (far right) holds off Wildcat Lily (center) and My Happy Face to win the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Sweet Lulu proved she is as game as she is talented after surviving both an early pace duel and a determined stretch challenge from Wildcat Lily before prevailing by a head in Saturday’s Grade 1 Test at Saratoga.

Wildcat Lily, who was second here last month in the Grade 1 Prioress, held on to finish second, a neck in front of the late-running My Happy Face.

Sweet Lulu, a 3-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley, had won her first three starts by a combined 10 1/4 lengths but found herself in the fight of her life from start to finish in the seven-furlong Test.

With Julien Leparoux aboard, Sweet Lulu broke alertly to contest the early pace with Baby J. Sweet Lulu disposed of her early challenger leaving the turn but was quickly set upon by Wildcat Lily who stuck her head in front nearing the eighth pole. But Sweet Lulu reasserted herself and gradually seized control once again nearing the wire.

[SARATOGA 2013: Complete meet coverage, exclusive DRF videos]

My Happy Face may have been best as the race was run, fanning about seven paths wide turning for home before rallying belatedly to finish third.

Sweet Lulu is owned by Steve Beneto and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer. The Test marked the first time she’s raced over dirt. Sweet Lulu covered the distance in 1:23.45 over a fast track and paid $5.60 as the favorite in a field of nine 3-year-old fillies.

“I was a little concerned when she got headed and then Julien rode hard and she fought back and won,” Hollendorfer said. “She’s done everything we’ve asked her to do. I didn’t know if I should ship her this soon and come back here and try this. But she was doing so well and it’s a Grade 1 and a very important race for her pedigree.”

Hollendorfer said he was not concerned about the fact Sweet Lulu had never run on dirt or trained on anything but the artificial surfaces at Betfair Hollywood Park and Del Mar during her 3-year-old campaign.

“She trained on dirt as a 2-year-old at Pleasanton and she liked it there,” Hollendorfer said. “After the last race, I asked Julien and he thought she would handle dirt better than synthetics.”

Hollendorfer said the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint is a race he’ll look at down the road.

“I haven’t really made any long-range plans for her,” Hollendorfer said. “This was my point race, and my owner agreed to it, and so, here we are.”