08/06/2016 6:55PM

St. Julien picks up live mount in Groupie Doll winner Innovative Idea

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HENDERSON, Ky. – The Godolphin Racing empire knows few bounds. Some 20 minutes before Frosted won the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga for the powerhouse stable, Godolphin’s royal blue silks also were in the winner’s circle at Ellis Park, where the track’s annual showcase was won by Innovative Idea.

With Marlon St. Julien riding for trainer Eoin Harty, Innovative Idea surged to a half-length victory in the 35th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Groupie Doll Stakes on a hot Saturday afternoon. She paid $14.80 after finishing the one-mile distance in 1:36.33 over a fast track. Emmajestic was second, while Ahh Chocolate, the 3-2 favorite in a field of 11 fillies and mares, was third.

For St. Julien, a 44-year-old native of Lafayette, La., the circumstances of his first graded stakes victory in nearly 15 years were remarkable. Jon Court was named on Innovative Idea, but Court’s first choice in mounts was Improv, who drew into the field as the lone also-eligible after two fillies were early scratches.

“This is pretty emotional for me,” said St. Julien, who rode Curule to a seventh-place finish for Godolphin in the 2000 Kentucky Derby. “The last time I wore these blue silks were in the Derby. Obviously this was an awesome pick-up mount.”

St. Julien hustled Innovative Idea into contention from her rail slot, and as front-running Fioretti began to tire past the quarter pole, St. Julien shifted outside and into the clear.

“Speed was holding pretty well, so Eoin told me to get her into the race,” said St. Julien, whose most recent graded win came aboard Connected in the Grade 3 Fayette at the 2001 Keeneland fall meet. “She finished real strong.”

An objection for alleged interference near the quarter pole by Sophie Doyle, who rode 28-1 Emmajestic, was dismissed by the Ellis stewards.

Innovative Idea, a 4-year-old homebred by Bernardini, went through her conditions before winning the ungraded Iowa Distaff in her previous start. Harty, who trains Godolphin strings in Southern California and Chicago, was on hand and said afterward he was unsure what will be next for the bay filly.

“We’ll get her back home to Arlington and settled and maybe get out a condition book in 10 days or so,” said Harty.

Behind the top two, Ahh Chocolate ranged into serious contention on the turn but had no punch.

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“I thought I had them,” said jockey Chris Landeros. “I thought she’d kick on a little better.”

After the top three, the order was Pangburn, Fioretti, Kathballu, Crown D’Oro, You Bought Her, Academic Break, Engaginglee, and Improv.

The $2 exacta (1-4) paid $308.80, the $1 trifecta (1-4-6) returned $833.80, and the 10-cent superfecta (1-4-6-7) was worth $433.46.

The Groupie Doll, named for the two-time filly-mare sprint champion (2012-13), was known as the Gardenia Stakes from 1982 to 2014. Buff Bradley, who co-owned and trained Groupie Doll, participated in the post-race ceremonies.

Lookin At Lee takes Ellis Juvenile

 Lookin At Lee ($6) wore down front-running Caroline Test in capturing the $75,000 Ellis Park Juvenile by three-quarters of a length. Honor Thy Father, the 3-5 favorite in a field of five, finished third.

Albin Jimenez was aboard Lookin At Lee for owner L and N Racing and trainer Steve Asmussen. A son of Lookin At Lucky, Lookin At Lee finished the seven-furlong distance in 1:23.34 after easily winning a July 22 maiden race at Ellis in his second start.

Caroline Test, the lone filly in the lineup, led from the start before being caught in the final yards.

This was the first Ellis Juvenile since 2008.