October 27, 2020

Starship Jubilee defeats males in Breeders’ Cup WAYI Woodbine Mile

Starship Jubilee
Jockey Justin Stein celebrates aboard Ricoh Woodbine Mile champion Starship Jubilee. (Michael Burns Photo)

Canadian Horse of the Year Starship Jubilee made history in Saturday’s $757,336 Woodbine Mile (G1), and it wasn’t just for beating males as Ventura (2009) and Tepin (2016) had done in this “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).

Rather, Starship Jubilee rewrote the record book by becoming the race’s oldest-ever winner at the mature age of seven, and for achieving a unique double: she’s the first to win both the Mile and Woodbine’s signature turf race for distaffers, the E.P. Taylor (G1), which was the climax of her 2019 campaign.

The Kevin Attard mare was coming off a fourth in the Diana (G1) at Saratoga, and that likely led bettors to let her go as the 5-1 fourth choice. War of Will and his Mark Casse comrade, March to the Arch, attracted most of the attention as the 2-1 favorite and 2.70-1 second choice, respectively, and unbeaten sophomore Shirl’s Speight had his backers as the 3.90-1 third pick.

With new rider Justin Stein aboard, Starship Jubilee was nestled in midpack just off the pace, and raced a bit too keenly at one stage. Admiralty Pier showed the way through fractions of :23.66 and :46.14 on the firm turf, stalked by Value Proposition. War of Will, on hold on the outside early, advanced to challenge at the 6-furlong mark in 1:09.12 and battled in the stretch, but couldn’t impose his will.

Starship Jubilee steered outside for a clear path, took aim, and mowed them down by a length in a sharp 1:32.06. According to Woodbine publicity, her time was the third-fastest in stakes history, eclipsed only by Wise Dan’s 1:31.75 (still the course record) from 2013 and the aforementioned Ventura’s 1:32.04.

“Sitting inside the three-eighths pole, around the five-sixteenths pole, I had tons, and I waited for a chance to tip her out and ask her to run,” Stein said. “She’s so honest and wants to win more than anybody else out there. I watched her replays – she’s just gritty. She just waited for her cue and took off like a scalded cat. She was gone.”

March to the Arch closed from last to take runner-up honors by three-quarters of a length from War of Will. Their unheralded stablemate, the 58-1 Olympic Runner, made it a Casse sweep of the lower rungs of the exotics in fourth. Next came Armistice Day; Admiralty Pier; Shirl’s Speight, who tracked the early pace in a ground-saving spot; and Value Proposition.

Blue Heaven Farm’s Starship Jubilee has now amassed earnings of $2,093,069, and her 38-19-5-3 record reflects 12 stakes victories. The Florida-bred has won the 2017 Nassau (G2) and Dance Smartly (G2), the 2018-19 runnings of the Canadian (G2), three straight editions of the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, the Feb. 8 Suwannee River (G3), Mar. 7 Hillsborough (G2), and July 25 Ballston Spa (G2).

Attard observed that Starship Jubilee deserves greater recognition for her resume as Canada’s champion turf female for the past three years.

“Just an unbelievable feeling. This mare doesn’t get the respect she deserves. She’s a winner of 18 or 19 races out of 38 starts.  I was really disappointed to see her at 6-1 on the board….just kind of forgotten about. Time after time she comes up and proves that she’s a top horse in North America.”

Indeed, the daughter of Indy Wind has built a terrific career from humble beginnings. Bred by William P. Sorren, Starship Jubilee initially sold for just $6,500 as an OBS August yearling, and she RNA’d for $34,000 as an April juvenile at the same venue.

After Tino Attard claimed her for $16,000 at Gulfstream in Feb. 2017, she began her upward trajectory. Starship Jubilee was a much hotter property at Keeneland November in 2018, but her $425,000 hammer price didn’t reach her reserve. Blue Heaven Farm then acquired her, and sportingly kept her in training for two more seasons.

Starship Jubilee has rewarded connections by reaching new heights, and she’ll try to prolong the storyline through the Breeders’ Cup. She has the Mile berth in her pocket, but the Filly & Mare Turf (G1) has reportedly been in her sights.