Terry Lovingier made the trip to Kentucky to watch two of his homebred juveniles compete in stakes June 29 at Churchill Downs.
Phantom Boss lived up to his favoritism and scored in the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) despite being bumped multiple times, and Cholula Lips was a strong second to Magic Dance after dueling near the lead in the Debutante Stakes.
“I thought ‘Cholula’ ran lights out against that really good filly, because that filly’s like a Breeders’ Cup filly. She’s really good,” Lovingier said. “‘Cholula’ moved way forward, and I loved her gallop out. If you watch the gallop out, she galloped right on past the other horse. I think ‘Cholula’ ran just really, really big. Phantom Boss is just a super good horse.”
While the top finishes made for a thrilling weekend, it was the experience of watching horses he raised and sharing the moment with his racing partners that topped Lovingier’s day.
“We’re super excited, super happy, and there’s nothing better than breeding them and foaling them and raising them,” Lovingier said. “If you can’t get them sold at market, then put partners in and run them. I get more of a thrill out of that than anything.”
Lovingier also enjoyed sharing Phantom Boss’ winning moment with Jan Loftus, who’s worked at Churchill Downs for 65 years.
“I think one of the more exciting things was to have Jan the server get in the picture with us,” Lovingier said. “I get amazed by people when I meet someone like her. Jan, our server in the stakes room, has seen 64 Kentucky Derbys. That’s how long she’s been there, and I think that impressed me as much as anything.”
Phantom Boss, co-owned with Bada Beng Racing, Tom Beckerle, and Amanda Navarro, was making his third start in the Bashford Manor. The flashy Shackleford colt trained by Jorge Periban broke his maiden June 2 by 2 1/2 lengths after leading every step in a maiden special weight for California-breds. That effort followed a neck defeat in his debut May 19 in open company. Both races were 4 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita Park. Phantom Boss stretched out to six furlongs for the Bashford Manor and eked out a three-quarter-length victory in 1:10.78 from off the pace after being bumped at both the three-eighths and five-sixteenths poles.
Phantom Boss is out of the Street Boss mare Bossy Belle, whom Lovingier purchased after she went through the ring at the 2016 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale without a bid.
“She was in a little bit of bad shape, and she looks marvelous now,” Lovingier said. “If you saw her now, it’s like she just blossomed into a beautiful, really, really nice mare at the ranch. Her numbers were good enough to where I went ahead and picked her up, and I had a breeding to Shackleford and I liked the cross. She’s a little bit sort of a stockier horse, and I wanted to put a little bit more range on her with Shackleford, and he certainly did that with Phantom Boss.”
Lovingier said the Aug. 10 Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar could be the next spot for Phantom Boss.
The Bashford Manor victory came one race after Cholula Lips, an Empire Way filly also co-owned by Navarro, dueled near the lead in the Debutante Stakes and held for second as heavily favored Magic Dance came from off the pace to complete six furlongs in 1:10.26. The Mike Harrington trainee was making her second start after winning by 3 1/4 lengths May 24 against fellow California-breds sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita.
Cholula Lips is out of the Rio Verde mare Sweet Lips Pooh, another homebred Lovingier raced with partners. In 2016, Sweet Lips Pooh was bred to Empire Way, who stood at Lovacres Ranch at the time. Lovingier consigned Cholula Lips at the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association January Mixed Sale this year, but she did not reach her $3,700 reserve price.
Lovingier said her pedigree kept her from selling at the time. However, he was impressed by her physical and saw a girthy filly with a great shoulder.
“I always look at the horse first. Frankly, looking at her, I thought she was probably at least a $10,000 to $15,000 horse because she was that good of an individual,” he said. “The rest of the industry, the buyers, didn’t think so. They looked at her pedigree and they backed off of her. But the truth is, she’s actually a really pretty filly.”
Lovingier suspects Cholula Lips will be a tough competitor against other California-breds during Del Mar’s upcoming meet, which begins July 17.