Triple Crown star Justify now has a second major stakes winner from his first crop, after Just Cindy stayed perfect in Thursday’s $175,000 Schuylerville (G3) on opening day at Saratoga. Earlier on the card, sophomore filly Tarabi captured the Wilton S. in the Spa’s first race using the restored Wilson Chute.
Clarkland Farm’s homebred Just Cindy had impressed in her June 17 debut at Churchill Downs, rolling from a couple of lengths off the pace to score by daylight, and replicated those tactics here. The Eddie Kenneally pupil went off as the 2.10-1 second choice in the Schuylerville, with bettors preferring another flashy Churchill debutante, 1.25-1 favorite Summer Promise. The two would battle down the Saratoga lane until Just Cindy proved stronger.
Although Musicmansandy dashed to the lead through an opening quarter in :22.38, Summer Promise had her measure, and the favorite took charge by the half in :45.90. The rail-drawn Just Cindy was on hold just behind the leaders. On the far turn, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. deftly angled her off the fence, around the tiring Musicmansandy, and in pursuit of Summer Promise.
As Just Cindy and Summer Promise engaged at the top of the stretch, both appeared a tad green. Summer Promise dug in, but Just Cindy was relentless. Forging 2 1/4 lengths clear in the final furlong, Just Cindy negotiated six furlongs in 1:11.95.
“The filly is really nice,” Ortiz said of Just Cindy. “She does everything right. From the one post, she overcame everything and got there on time. When I asked her at the quarter pole, she did it.”
“It was great,” assistant trainer Kelly Wheeler said, “and I think she’s still a little green too, so I think there’s a lot of raw talent there. She’s an exciting horse to have in the barn. She kind of got knocked around a little bit and she stayed professional and ran on. It’s really all you can ask for in a second-time starter.”
Summer Promise turned in a promising effort in defeat, and the Uncle Mo half-sister to Destin, Vexatious, and Creative Cause has a right to progress for D. Wayne Lukas.
“She tried,” Summer Promise’s rider, Luis Saez, reported. “She sat second in good position. She came to the top of the stretch and kind of waited a little for the other one. But she did good. She’s going to be better next time.”
A further two lengths back in third came the maiden Janis Joplin, completing a trifecta for Churchill shippers. Janis Joplin outstayed her Mark Casse stablemate Me and My Shadow. Next came Vedareo, champion Vequist’s half-sister who had a troubled start; Musicmansandy; and the Casse-trained Adora, who trailed throughout after bumping hard with Vedareo out of the gate. Sweet Harmony and Motown Mischief were withdrawn.
Now 2-for-2, Just Cindy has bankrolled $165,710. The Kentucky-bred RNA’d for $140,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She is the first foal from Jenda’s Agenda, a stakes-winning daughter of Proud Citizen and Grade 2 vixen Just Jenda.
“I think she’ll go longer,” Wheeler said. “I don’t think that will be an issue at all. We kind of thought the added distance today wouldn’t be an issue at all, and it wasn’t.
“The plan is to go back (to Kentucky) tomorrow and we’ll let her tell us. We’ll see how she comes out of the race, talk to the owners and go from there.”
Just Cindy became Justify’s second group/graded winner, and the first to achieve that level in the United States. She follows the Aidan O’Brien-trained Statuette, heroine of the June 26 Balanchine (G2) at the Curragh.
The newly restored Wilson Chute, enabling one-mile races on the main track, was unveiled in the inaugural running of the $135,000 Wilton S. for three-year-old fillies. The configuration delivered an uneventful start and a formful result, as 6-5 favorite Tarabi bested 3.05-1 second choice Goddess of Fire.
Trained by Cherie DeVaux and piloted by Javier Castellano, Tarabi brought key formlines from last season. She twice placed to champion Echo Zulu, when runner-up in the Spinaway S. (G1) here and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Tarabi wasn’t seen again until a June 18 allowance at Churchill Downs, finishing second in a race she needed, and took the expected step forward at the Spa.
The scratches of pace players Sweet Solare and Let’s Be Clear left the 6.30-1 Angitude as the controlling speed, and she had no difficulty angling over from post 4. Tarabi, who broke from post 6, set up shop in a tracking second through fractions of :24.75 and :48.70.
Angitude drifted out on the far turn, opening up a yawning gap to her inside. Goddess of Fire seized the gap to offer her rally, but Tarabi was moving best of all on the outside. The favorite steadily asserted, under confident handling, by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 1:38.53.
Goddess of Fire headed Angitude for second. Early stalker Gina Romantica faded to fourth, another 6 1/4 lengths back. Favor, St Maarten Girl, and A Mo Reay rounded out the order under the wire.
The Wilson Chute was the talk of NYRA’s postrace quotes.
“The chute is fine,” winning trainer DeVaux noted. “We run a lot at Ellis Park and it’s similar to the chute at Ellis. For my horses running, not Tarabi necessarily, it’s not something that we’re not used to.”
“It felt great,” Castellano said of his view aboard Tarabi. “There was plenty of room. I liked the way my horse did it and fell into the race. Tuesday’s test run (of the chute) absolutely helped.”
Goddess of Fire’s rider, John Velazquez, described his trip from the rail.
“I had to come out running to get a little position,” Velazquez said. “They went pretty slow, so I was forced to be where I was.”
Joel Rosario, who guided pacesetter and eventual third Angitude, was pleased with how the race developed from the chute.
“I think it was great,” Rosario said of the chute. “My horse broke out of there nice and just held. I had no issues and no problems. She did everything I asked her to do. It looked like we were getting away a little bit, but the other horse (Tarabi) was right there. She hung in there.”
Campaigned by LBD Stable, Manganaro Bloodstock, and David Ingordo, Tarabi sports a mark of 5-2-2-1, $370,250. The $240,000 Keeneland September yearling was bred in Kentucky by Hinkle Farms. As a daughter of First Samurai and the Indian Charlie mare Indian Bay, she is a full sister to Japanese Grade 3 scorer Shivaji who was third in last fall’s Sprinters (G1).
Tarabi will return to the top level for the Aug. 6 Test (G1).
“The Test is definitely what our goal would be,” DeVaux said, “so we’re going to have to shorten her back up (to seven furlongs), but she had a race over the track, and she’s run two good races here. It gives you a lot of confidence to point towards a race like that.”