Luscious Lonna wins the Golden Poppy Stakes.

Luscious Lonna wins the Golden Poppy Stakes.

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Low-Level Claimer Shows Heels in Golden Poppy

Luscious Lonna defeats grade II winners Halo Dolly, Vamo a Galupiar at Golden Gate.

Luscious Lonna, claimed for $6,250 in 2011, posted a gate-to-wire upset victory in the $61,350 Golden Poppy Stakes at Golden Gate Fields April 7 (VIDEO).

Making her stakes debut in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares, 5-year-old Luscious Lonna defeated 10 rivals as a 12-1 outsider, including grade II winners Halo Dolly and Vamo a Galupiar.

Luscious Lonna took command immediately from the one-hole under jockey Jesus Velazquez and was never seriously threatened en route to winning the Golden Poppy by 2 1/2 lengths over Lady Aspen. Halo Dolly, the even-money favorite and 121-pound highweight, finished third, a half-length behind Lady Aspen and half a length ahead of Vamo a Galupiar, the 5-2 second choice.

Luscious Lonna won the Golden Poppy in 1:45.86 on a yielding turf course while carrying 117 pounds and paid $26.80, $12, and $5.80. She topped a $217.60 exacta with 11-1 Lady Aspen, who returned $9.20 and $4.80. Halo Dolly paid $2.80.

Quarter mile fractions were :24.37, :49.39, 1:14.29, and 1:38.67.

"I thought they were going to put more pressure on me but they let me go by myself," said Velazquez, who earned his second career stakes victory. "She relaxed and when I asked her at the top of the stretch she responded. She's a nice filly."

Luscious Lonna is trained by Nick Sloan, who claimed the daughter of Benchmark out of her second career start. Luscious Lonna made one start for Sloan, finishing third in a starter allowance race on the turf, before she went to the sidelines for more than a year due to an injury.

She returned to the races last September and has rewarded Sloan for his patience by winning five of eight starts since the lay-up.

"This is the first horse I ever had that's run above the claiming level," said Sloan, who owns Luscious Lonna in partnership with Jon Harris and Bonnie Marshall.

Bred in California by Nick Alexander the winner is out of Striking Point, by Thunder Gulch.

Luscious Lonna earned $39,550 for Sunday's win and has made $137,650 for Sloan and his partners while registering five wins, two seconds, and a third in nine starts for the group.