June 17, 2024

Juliet Foxtrot leads rivals on merry dance in Jenny Wiley

Juliet Foxtrot
Juliet Foxtrot wins the Jenny Wiley Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

Juliet Foxtrot capitalized as the controlling speed in the Jenny Wiley S. (G1) on a rainy Saturday at Keeneland, while Silver Dust was determined in the Ben Ali S. (G3), and Change of Control sprang an upset in the Giant’s Causeway.

Jenny Wiley (G1)

Six-year-old Juliet Foxtrot was kept in training in hopes of achieving a Grade 1 laurel, and the homebred rewarded the Juddmonte Farms brain trust for that decision.

The Brad Cox trainee had placed in all four prior attempts at this level, including twice to record-setters over this course. Runner-up to champion Uni in the 2019 First Lady (G1), Juliet Foxtrot was third to champion Rushing Fall in last year’s pandemic-postponed Jenny Wiley. She had not raced since finishing third, for the second straight year, in the Nov. 29 Matriarch (G1) at Del Mar.

Juliet Foxtrot encountered much different conditions Saturday’s renewal of the $300,000 Jenny Wiley. Unlike the lightning-fast surface of the July heat, the course had deteriorated to yielding. The British-bred enjoyed herself while dictating terms throughout with Tyler Gaffalione.

Sent off as the 8-5 favorite, Juliet Foxtrot carved out splits of :24.35, :49.45, and 1:13.72. The Dansili mare kicked two lengths clear while negotiating 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.51.

Tamahere and La Signare, both early stalkers, finished a neck apart in second and third, respectively. Etoile improved from last to check in fourth. Maxim Rate, who made a move on the backstretch, weakened to fifth. Micheline never appeared to be traveling and wound up trailing the six-horse field.

“She really relished the ground,” Gaffalione told Keeneland publicity. “They said that they worked her a couple weeks back over a turf course similar to this and they said she just ate it up.

“As soon as she broke, I could feel that I had a ton of horse, and she was loving every bit of it. I just put my hands down when she broke and she came right back to me. It was an easy ride today.”

Juliet Foxtrot has now bankrolled $701,804 from her 20-6-2-3 line. Originally with Charlie Hills, the bay won one of eight starts in her native Britain. But she reached a different level on the American scene, capturing her first three stateside capped by the 2019 Modesty H. (G3). Juliet Foxtrot nearly made it four in a row in the John C. Mabee (G2), where she just missed to Vasilika. Her 2020 highlight came in the Gallorette (G3) over a yielding Pimlico course, similar to what she relished here.

Juddmonte’s Garrett O’Rourke commented on how meaningful this victory was, both for Juliet Foxtrot and for the late Prince Khalid Abdullah’s operation that was marking a 16th graded win at Keeneland.

“It was brave on behalf of everybody at Juddmonte to make the move to keep her (in training) for one more year to try to win that elusive Grade 1,” O’Rourke said. “This is huge for the mare. She looked absolutely magnificent today, and for as consistent of a performer as she’s been, I just think she thoroughly deserves it, which makes it all the more sweet for us.

“It’s taken a lot of effort over the years and a tremendous amount of commitment from Prince Khalid and now his family and sons. It’s a great tribute for the effort and planning and perseverance of the whole operation. And it’s been a fun ride.”

Out of the French stakes-winning King’s Best mare Kilo Alpha, Juliet Foxtrot descends from Grade 2 vixen Navajo Princess. That daughter of Drone is better known as the dam of one of Juddmonte’s all-time greats, Dancing Brave, as well as his multiple Group 1-winning sister Jolypha.

Ben Ali (G3)

Tom R. Durant’s Silver Dust repelled challenges from every side to prevail in the $147,000 Ben Ali S. (G3). Trained by Bret Calhoun and well handled by Adam Beschizza, the veteran son of Tapit was earning his fourth career graded stakes victory.

Silver Dust showed his tendency to break sluggishly, but recovered to track frontrunning Sprawl through fractions of :23.79 and :47.63 on the sloppy track. The seven-year-old gray accosted his younger foe on the far turn, poking his head in front at the six-furlong mark in 1:12.32.

Sprawl refused to defer to his elder, however, and fought back gamely on the inside entering the stretch. Beau Luminarie rallied on the outside, while 9-10 favorite Night Ops surged in the final yards.

Silver Dust kept finding to see off all comers. A half-length up on Night Ops at the wire, the 4.60-1 chance splashed 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.21. Beau Luminarie was a neck back in third, edging Sprawl and Treasure Trove in a photo. The quintet was separated by three-quarters of a length in a blanket finish.

Nearing millionaire status with $975,677 in earnings, Silver Dust advanced his resume to 33-7-7-5. His prior stakes scores came in the 2019 West Virginia Governor’s S. (G3) and the 2019-20 runnings of the Mineshaft H. (G3) at Fair Grounds. Silver Dust’s seven stakes placings include last season’s Stephen Foster (G2) and Alysheba (G2). Tenth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) to conclude 2020, he brushed off the cobwebs with a seventh in a Fair Grounds turf allowance March 7.

Silver Dust was bred by Don Alberto Corp. in Kentucky and sold twice at auction, bringing $270,000 as a Keeneland September yearling and $510,000 as a juvenile at OBS March. His younger half-brother, Forza di Oro, rolled in the Discovery H. (G3) when last seen in November. Their dam, Filare l’Oro, is a Grade 3-placed stakes winner by Hard Spun.

Giant’s Causeway

Even-money favorite Into Mystic appeared to have made the winning move when darting through on the rail, but the 8.90-1 Change of Control flew late to get up in the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway. As track announcer Kurt Becker noted, the winner is a granddaughter of the “Iron Horse,” with her sire being the Giant’s Causeway stallion Fed Biz.

Change of Control handed trainer Michelle Lovell a milestone 500th career victory. Under Colby Hernandez, the Horseshoe Racing colorbearer clocked the boggy 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.48.

Into Mystic, overwhelmed by a length in second, was herself 4 1/2 lengths clear of Jakarta. In Good Spirits was another neck astern in fourth, followed by Fashionable Lady, pacesetter Elle Z, and a tailed-off Oooh Barracuda. A Bit of Both was a vet scratch after running off pre-race, and withdrawn earlier were Dixieincandyland and Karak.

Change of Control’s scorecard stands at 25-6-5-5, $413,939, reflecting a win in the 2019 Mamzelle at Churchill Downs and six stakes placings. The five-year-old was third versus males Fast Boat and Carotari in the Jan. 31 Pulse Power Turf Sprint at Sam Houston, and with blinkers-off, she just missed in a March 21 off-the-turf allowance at Fair Grounds.