Charles Fipke’s homebred Bee Jersey, runner-up to Thunder Snow in last year’s UAE 2000 Guineas (G3), dominated his first American graded stakes in Sunday’s $200,000 Steve Sexton Mile (G3) at Lone Star Park.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen and piloted by Ricardo Santana Jr., Bee Jersey ranked as the even-money favorite after wiring his past two allowance races by a combined margin of 13 3/4 lengths. He made short work of this solid field as well, beating Shotgun Kowboy to the lead and building up an unassailable advantage over comebacker Girvin.
Bee Jersey cleared them and set up shop on the rail through a moderate opening quarter in :23.91. Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. continued to ration out his speed as he clicked off fractions of :47.62 and 1:11.97, and he opened up on them down the stretch. Crossing the wire 5 1/2 lengths in front, Bee Jersey finished in 1:36.78.
Girvin, a veteran of the 2017 Triple Crown trail and hero of the Haskell Invitational (G1), was making his first start since his fifth in the Oklahoma Derby (G3). Held up in last early, he rallied well to collar longtime stalker Shotgun Kowboy for runner-up honors. Futile checked in a further 6 3/4 lengths adrift in fourth, trailed by Asmussen’s secondary hope South Beach, Oh So Regal, and Franco.
Bee Jersey began his career with Doug Watson in Dubai, where he bumped into a couple of useful types when placing in his first two starts. He was regarded well enough to try the UAE 2000 Guineas as a maiden, finishing best of the rest behind Thunder Snow, but found the UAE Derby (G2) a bridge too far and wound up a tailed-off 15th of 16.
The Kentucky-bred was repatriated, freshened up, and reverted in trip. In his debut for Asmussen, he broke his maiden over seven furlongs at Keeneland. His lone stateside loss came next time in an entry-level allowance at Churchill, coincidentally the only time he hasn’t grabbed the early lead in his U.S. starts. Bee Jersey has led from pillar to post in his one-mile allowance conquests at Oaklawn Park January 20 and at Keeneland April 14. By making it a hat trick here, he advanced his resume to 9-4-3-1, $326,292.
Bee Jersey is by Fipke’s homebred Jersey Town, who scored his signature win in the 2010 Cigar Mile (G1). Asmussen credited Fipke’s breeding program for producing another classy colt in Bee Jersey. Citing sire Jersey Town as a Grade 1 miler, the trainer added that Bee Jersey is “possibly of that caliber as well.”
Last year, Mor Spirit used the Steve Sexton Mile as a launching pad to Metropolitan H. (G1) glory on Belmont Day, and it wouldn’t be a shock if Bee Jersey tries a similar strategy.
Bee Jersey is out of the stakes-placed Rahy mare Bees, a descendant of the influential matriarch Missy Baba. He hails from the same branch of the family as European champion Duke of Marmalade and 2013 Epsom Derby (G1) winner Ruler of the World. More distant maternal relatives include Lemon Drop Kid, Summer Squall, and A.P. Indy.