Bill Mott can harbour dreams that Lovestruck is going to be a filly to reckon with after the Godolphin inmate continued the perfect start to her career at Aqueduct.
The Godolphin homebred is now a perfect two-from-two after landing the $100,000 Tepin for juvenile fillies.
A debut scorer at Saratoga earlier in the autumn, Mott allowed the Tapit filly to step out in stakes company on only her second start and she rewarded him with a determined success.
Junior Alvarado’s mount broke nicely from gate two to stalk the early pace with outsider Big Time Lady in front. Lovestruck moved to the lead as they turned for home and went by the pacesetter on the outside.
Invincible Gal, piloted by Jose Ortiz, came to attack the new leader with the running rail to aid, but Lovestruck was not for turning and held on gamely to win the one-mile-half-a-furlong contest.
A stewards’ inquiry looked into a possible coming together between Big Time Lady and Lovestruck as they entered the home stretch but no amendment to the placings was required.
Winning rider Alvarado said the performance was just what Mott and connections had anticipated from Lovestruck.
“She’s been ready for quite a while,” Alvarado said. “We were expecting the kind of run from her that we saw.
“There’s still room for her to improve. She’s still a little bit green and when she got to the lead she was wandering around the track, which is fine. When she puts it all together, we’ll get a little more from her.”
Lovestruck was favourite to continue her winning ways at Aqueduct but Alvarado revealed he ran the race hoping to ensure she learned from the experience too.
“I knew she was going to be sharp [out of the gates], but I like to teach them to relax behind horses and have a nice finish,” Alvarado said. “I didn’t want to just let her go. Even though it was a slow pace, I knew I was close enough that she wouldn’t have too much to do at the end.”
Invincible Gal, fresh off an 11th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland earlier in November, came through for the minor money and the Graham Motion-trained filly has now posted runner-up finishes three times in four starts in stakes company.
Ortiz admitted he got by Big Time Lady with something in hand, but suggested Lovestruck was simply too strong.
“I had a beautiful trip. I found an opening on the inside in the stretch and I thought I had a shot to get there but the winner, she showed up,” Ortiz said. “She’s the real deal.”