11/29/2012 4:45PM

Turfway: Lotta Lovin has big home-track advantage in Holiday Inaugural

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Pat Lang Photography
Lotta Lovin, who has won three straight stakes at Turfway, will challenge Queen's Award in the Holiday Inaugural.

Home-track advantage is sometimes overplayed, but it’s hard to miss as a potential major factor when sizing up the field for the first stakes of the Turfway Park holiday meet, the $50,000 Holiday Inaugural on Saturday.

An oversubscribed field of 14 fillies and mares – only 12 can start – are entered in the six-furlong Polytrack race at the northern Kentucky track, and on recent form, it sure looks like a mare named Queen’s Award will be tough to beat after she earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure two starts back in an allowance victory at Keeneland.

But hold on there. The filly starting just to her inside in post 1, Lotta Lovin, is unbeaten in three starts at Turfway, all of them in stakes.

“She’s a horse for the course, that’s for sure,” said Mike Maker, who trains 3-year-old Lotta Lovin for New York businessman Buck Butler. “She’s really been doing well lately, and the class relief ought to do her well.”

Lotta Lovin, with Victor Lebron to ride, exits the Raven Run at Keeneland, a Grade  2 race in which she finished ninth. She shows two sharp works at the Trackside Training Center in Louisville and stands to rebound to the form she flaunted last winter in sweeping the Gowell, Cincinnati Trophy, and Valdale at Turfway.

Queen’s Award (post 2, Marlon St. Julien) validated her Oct. 12 triumph at Keeneland when running second to the red-hot Sweet Cassiopeia two weeks later. Eduardo Caramori trains 5-year-old Queen’s Award at the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington.

Other chief threats in this 27th running of the Holiday Inaugural include Dreamin Big (post 5, Norberto Arroyo Jr.), a standout Indiana-bred filly, and Yankee Union (post 11, Jon Court), eighth after showing good speed in the Raven Run.

The Holiday Inaugural is the first of three stakes at the holiday meet, which runs through Dec. 31. Eight stakes, led by the $500,000 Spiral Stakes, are on the schedule for the winter-spring meet (Jan. 1-March 31).

The Holiday Inaugural goes as the 10th of 11 Saturday races on a card that starts at 1:10  p.m. Eastern. Post time for the feature is 5:42.

◗ Chip Bach, a Turfway employee since 1999, has been promoted to general manager, a position that had been filled on an interim basis for part of this year by Lee Dillard, who has moved into a different role within the corporate hierarchy of Caesars, the managing partner of Turfway. Bach had been director of operations since 2006.