Elle Z one to catch in Laguna Distaff Turf Sprint
HENDERSON, Ky.— Jockey Adam Beschizza is being reunited with Tobys Heart for the first time in 14 races, when the now 4-year-old filly won her debut by 6 1/4 lengths. Trained by Brian Lynch, Tobys Heart is the 2-1 favorite in a field of 10 for the $100,000 Laguna Distaff Turf Sprint at Ellis Park. She is seeking her fifth stakes, having earlier won Churchill Downs’ Derby Week Unbridled Sidney and last fall’s $500,000 Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey Music City Stakes at Kentucky Downs, where Lynch is hoping to return next month.
“There’s been plenty of water under the bridge since I last sat on her a couple of years ago,” Beschizza said. “She was a real fast, sharp 2-year-old. She had her first win at Churchill and won very impressively. She’s continued to do so. She’s a very solid, hearty mare. They did experiment with her back and forth with distances. She’s bred to go a bit farther. But she’s always been a head-strong filly and she just needs races to sort of play into her favor and get her to drop her head and she usually puts her best foot forward. What makes her shine is her toughness and her grit to win. She’s 4 now and showing no signs of stopping.”
Tobys Heart is 5-1-2 in 14 starts, her $649,995 topping the field. She finished eighth in her last start, the Grade 3 Caress at Saratoga, but Lynch is pretty much tossing that non-performance.
Beschizza picked up the mount on Call Me Midnight, a 3-year-old taking on older horses in the $100,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint. Call Me Midnight won the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Lecomte, a Kentucky Derby prep in New Orleans, but has been refashioned into a sprinter. Trainer Keith Desormeaux hoped to run him for the first time on the grass in the Dade Park Dash, but the race was taken off the turf. He lost by a head to All in Sync, who also runs back in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint.
“Very narrow defeat here, beaten by one of Mr. (Steve) Asmussen’s nice horses,” Beschizza said. “Look, I’m sure in his mind the horse probably thought he won, it was so close. Very privileged and excited to be riding him.”
Beschizza also rides Cupid’s Claws, making his first start for trainer Mark Casse in the $100,000 Henderson Turf Mile, with the stakes receiving a name change to honor Ellis Park’s host community.
Lynch has a horse entered in all four stakes, including favored Thanks Mr. Eidson in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint, the consistent Take Charge Ro in the Centennial Distaff Turf Mile and Churchill Downs’ Opening Verse winner Gray’s Fable in the Henderson Turf Mile.
“Thanks Mr. Eidson, I thought he looked very good winning the stakes at Indiana the other day,” Lynch said of the William Garrett. “That was a good stepping stone toward this stakes. Take Charge Ro ran a good fourth over there with a wide trip. Gray’s Fable has been a little disappointing after taking him over from Roger Attfield, but we’re hoping we’ve got him back on track. And Tobys Heart just didn’t seem to fire at Saratoga and didn’t really get involved in the race. But she’s come out of it, so well I think I’m going to give her shot.”
One things for sure: Beschizza and Tobys Heart will have to run down the very fleet Elle Z and jockey Mitchell Murrill to win the Laguna Distaff Turf Sprint at 5 1/2 furlongs.
Murrill has ridden Elle Z in her past 15 races, going 7-4-0. That includes a second behind Yes It’s Ginger in the Ellis Park stakes last year.
“She’s a straightforward filly. She’s very speedy,” Murrill said. “She does everything 110 percent. She never gives up. But when she does get a nice easy fraction for the half-mile, I know that she’s got a pretty good shot to win it. And she’s been pressed very hard on the front end and still had grit. She’s ready to go.”
Soft turf “is not her favorite,” he said. “But she still competes hard, as much as we could ask for.”
Said trainer Chris Hartman: “She’s a good hard-trying filly. She puts her race in every time she runs. I think she’s ready for her A game: Get the lead and see if we can hold on.”
Hartman also entered Ellis Park’s Jeff Hall Memorial winner Necker Island in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint, Sister Annie in the Centennial Distaff Turf Mile and Tejano Twist in the Henderson Turf Mile.
Ellis Park Press Release
Main photo: Tobys Heart winning last year’s $500,000 Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey Music City at Kentucky Downs (Coady Photography)