Trainer Larry Jones and his wife Cindy picked the right spot for their 3-year-old filly Just Jenda, who dominated six rivals in winning the $100,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) by three lengths at Oaklawn Park March 15.
Just Jenda shipped out of New Orleans in time to avoid the super filly Rachel Alexandra in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) a day earlier. The winning daughter of Menifee gained her first graded stakes triumph in the Honeybee as a reward.
Ridden by Gabriel Saez, Just Jenda dueled briefly with favored Bon Jovi Girl in the homestretch before drawing off for a convincing three-length victory. She completed the 1 1/16-mile main track test for 3-year-old fillies in a slow time of 1:45.95 on a fast track.
Afleet Deceit, with Chris Emigh aboard, rallied for second with Bon Jovi Girl and Jose Caraballo third.
Trained by Larry Jones for Cindy Jones, Just Jenda bounced back from a third-place finish in Fair Grounds' Silverbulletday (gr. III), where she faded to finish more than nine lengths behind War Echo as the 11-10 favorite.
In the Honeybee, Bon Jovi Girl took the early lead from Be Fair and slowed the pace to a crawl under a firm hold from Caraballo. Fractions were :25.34, :49.79 and 1:14.27 as Bon Jovi Girl continued to show the way into the homestretch.
Just Jenda, always within striking distance, was roused coming into the lane and responded while racing three wide under high weight of 122 pounds. She cleared off after disposing of Bon Jovi Girl and was never threatened by the runner-up Afleet Deceit, who closed willingly for Emigh after trailing the field early. Afleet Deceit finished a half-length in front of Bon Jovi Girl.
Just Jenda kicked off her 2009 campaign with a 1 3/4-length win in the Tiffany Lass Stakes at Fair Grounds Jan. 10. She won Philadelphi Park's Brandywine Stakes as a 2-year-old in her second start. Overall, Just Jenda has won four of her six starts. The Honeybee victory, worth $60,000 boosted her earnings to $205,400.
Lavin Bloodstock Services bred the winner in Kentucky. The chestnut filly is out of Liberty School, by Pine Bluff.
Sent off as the third choice, Just Jenda paid $8.40, $4.60 and $2.40 while keying a $2 exacta worth $44.60. Afleet Deceit, who was eight lengths behind Rachel Alexandra while also second in her most recent try, Oaklawn's Martha Washington Stakes, returned $7 and $3.40. Bon Jovi Girl, favored off an impressive allowance win in her seasonal debut at Oaklawn Feb. 26 for trainer Tim Ritchey, paid $2.40 to show.
It was a half-length to Be Fair in fourth. She was followed by Peach Brew, My Spanx and Hightap.