12/05/2009 1:00AM

Sweet Lemon Chello powers home in Whitworth


STICKNEY, Ill. - Sweet Lemon Chello started her racing career in a short 4 1/2-furlong sprint. Her lone win had come at six furlongs, and until Saturday, Sweet Lemon Chello never had raced around two turns. But Sweet Lemon Chello's sire is Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid, and she had no problem seeing out the 1 1/16-mile Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante, winning the $100,600 race for Illinois-bred 2-year-old fillies by 8 1/2 lengths.

Trained by Kentucky-based Lisa Merritt for Slapshot Racing LLC of Lisa and Daniel Sullivan and Patricia Beauvais, Sweet Lemon Chello pressed the solid pace of Passionate Style, going the first half-mile in 48.26 seconds. Connors Shadow loomed three wide on the far turn, forcing jockey Tim Thornton to ask Sweet Lemon Chello to maintain her position.

"I had to use her a little early to keep her from sucking back out of there, but when I asked her, she kicked on away from them," Thornton said.

Indeed, at the top of the stretch, Sweet Lemon Chello had given her nine rivals the slip. Second choice Heavenly Lass rallied mildly along the inside, but never got close to the winner. Our Girl Magic rallied for third, with 2-1 favorite Cupid's best fourth.

Sweet Lemon Chello paid $9.40 to win, and was timed in 1:47.54 on fast dirt.

Her owners said they would donate 10 percent of their earnings, $60,360, to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.