Sweet Lulu turned in a brilliant effort in her first try on a traditional dirt surface to win the Test Stakes (G1) Saturday at Saratoga.
Jerry Hollendorfer shipped the daughter of Mr. Greeley in from Del Mar for the historic Test off just three outings – wins in a maiden, allowance and optional claiming race. She ran like a
much more seasoned filly, pushing long shot Baby J through a blazing opening quarter-mile in 22.28 seconds, a half in 44.95 and then surviving a second duel with stalker Wildcat Lily through the stretch to win by a head.
Sweet Lulu completed the seven-furlong Test in 1:23.45 and paid $5.60 for a $2 win wager as the 9-5 favorite.
The win was the 6,479th for Hollendorfer, who ranks third on the all-time list. Despite Sweet Lulu’s lack of experience, the trainer came east with confidence.
“She trained on dirt as a 2-year-old,” Hollendorfer said. “I had her at Pleasanton with all my 2-year-olds and she liked it there. We weren’t that concerned about it. After the [most recent start at Del Mar on July 24], I asked [jockey] Julien [Leparoux], and he said he thought she would handle dirt better than synthetic.
She’s done everything we’ve asked her to do,” he added. “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 showing speed, and this is a Grade 1 and a very important race for pedigree, so we decided to try it.”
The winning purse of $300,000 pushed Sweet Lulu’s lifetime earnings to $411,600.
Hollendorfer said perhaps the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint would be in Sweet Lulu’s sights.
“I think we would look at something like that,” he said. “I didn’t make any other long-term plans. This was my point race; my owner agreed to it, and here we are.”