Making her stakes debut off a tour de force performance at Ellis Park, 2.40-1 favorite Juju’s Map continued her ascent in the $400,000 Alcibiades S. (G1) on Friday’s opener at Keeneland. The Brad Cox trainee secured a free pass to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Del Mar, as well as 10 points toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
A $300,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, the Albaugh Family Stables colorbearer finished a fine second in her 5 1/2-furlong debut at Ellis July 25. Juju’s Map moved forward next time out on the step up to a mile, going wire-to-wire by a visually impressive 5 3/4 lengths on Sept. 3.
Drawn on the rail in the 1 1/16-mile Alcibiades, Juju’s Map was in position to use her early speed, but the 15-1 Runup was hustling from the far outside post 11. Runup cleared the field, angled over through an opening quarter in :22.75, and opened up by the half in :46.00.
Juju’s Map switched off the fence into an outside stalking lane in second. Fellow Cox trainee Matareya, the 2.80-1 second choice after her Ellis premiere, was perched in a tracking third.
When Runup began to tire on the far turn, Juju’s Map readily took over passing the six-furlong mark in 1:11.23. Matareya was advancing along with her stablemate, and the stretch run held out the promise of a battle for barn bragging rights.
But Juju’s Map didn’t hang around long enough for Matareya to pose a challenge. Under regular rider Florent Geroux, the Liam’s Map filly drew off by 4 1/4 lengths. Juju’s Map, who was the only pace factor still around at the finish, clocked 1:43.52.
Geroux elaborated upon the race dynamics:
“She’s very talented to start with, but today it was tricky because there were a couple other speed horses. From the one hole, you have to use speed to your advantage, to make sure they don’t cross over and slow it down too fast. So I just wanted to break ahead so if they wanted the lead they would have to work for it, and that’s what they did.
“I was able to ease her back in the first turn. From there she took a nice breather with me down the backside and from there I knew she was going to be pretty tough. Turning for home, I saw (Matareya) coming up and she’s pretty talented too, but when I asked her down the lane she gave me another gear, the kind of effort you want to see, and hopefully she’s going into the Breeders’ Cup in the right way.”
Deep closers rounded out the superfecta – runner-up Distinctlypossible; Sequist, who just missed second by a neck; and Mama Rina. The respective second through fourth received Oaks points on the 4-2-1 scale for the minors.
Dream Lith, fifth early, held that same spot while dead-heating with Matareya across the wire. Next came Penny Saver, who was likewise chasing in the initial stages; Miss Interpret; Runup; Myfavoritedaughter; and the eased Pipeline Girl. Diamond Wow was scratched.
Cox was delighted that Juju’s Map was able to keep galloping after attending the stiff pace.
“She sat close to a hot pace and was still able to finish, and I thought, ‘That’s what good horses do.’ She broke running, Florent put her in a good position, and she finished up well. I’m very proud of her performance.
“We’ll obviously talk it over with the Albaugh team,” Cox added, “and as long as she comes out of it in good order I think we’ll march on toward California (for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies). It was a good trip last time, and hopefully she can show up and run her race and be very effective.”
Juju’s Map has bankrolled $280,800 from her 3-2-0-1 line. Bred by Fred W. Hertrich III in Kentucky, the bay first sold for $190,000 as a “short” yearling at Keeneland January before becoming a pinhook success for Peter O’Callaghan’s Woods Edge Farm.
Her dam, the Flatter mare Nagambie, is a half-sister to Grade 1 star Fault. This is the family of Grade 2 scorers Mananan McLir and Fioretti, multiple Grade 3-placed stakes victor South Bend, and multiple Grade 1 queen Bast, third in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The champion of that Breeders’ Cup event at Santa Anita was none other than British Idiom, who’d punched her ticket in that fall’s Alcibiades – for Cox.