The Florida-bred invader, overlooked at odds of 6-1, was guided to victory by Eddie Castro for trainer Dale Romans.
Joint Effort, a 4-year-old daughter of Runaway Groom--C.C. Princess (Conquistador Cielo), was well-placed in fifth along the inside as the multiple grade I winner Take D' Tour carved fractions of :23 1/5, :46 and 1:10 4/5 while opening up a three-length lead after six furlongs. Take D' Tour's best races have come around one turn, however, and she began to weary in the lane as Joint Effort swept up to challenge. Joint Effort pulled clear to win in 1:43 1/5 under urging.
“I just stayed in behind the speed horse (Take D’ Tour) past the three-eighths (pole) and at the top of the stretch, I was very confident," Castro said.
Take D' Tour, who won the Stage Door Betty Handicap (gr. III) at Calder by 14 lengths in her last start Dec. 30, held second by 2 3/4 lengths as the 6-5 choice under Eibar Coa. Getback Time and Corey Nakatani took third.
It was three-quarters of a length back to Dancing General, followed by Somethinaboutlaura, Bit of Folly, Saffronista, Friel's for Real, Yearly Attitude, Purrfectly Fitting, No Sleep and Beneficial Bartok. Preciousness scratched.
Joint Effort earned $275,000 for her sixth win in 18 lifetime starts and has now banked $791,465. She was coming off runner-up finishes last fall at Churchill Downs in the one-mile Chilukki (gr. II) Nov. 2 and the 1 1/8-mile Fall City Handicap (gr. II) three weeks later. The chestnut filly posted back-to-back graded wins at Churchill last spring when winning the La Troienne (gr. III) at 7 1/2 furlongs on May 6 and the one-mile Dogwod Breeders' Cup (gr. III) one month later. She was overmatched in a pair of grade I races in New York after that. Joint Effort won the Sunshine Millions Oaks at Gulfstream Park last year.
"We were pointing to this and she always runs well fresh, so we just gave her the time off and pointed her here," Romans said. "This is a big one because it’s her first win around two turns with tested company. I think it opens a whole lot of doors and it gives her another race track she seems to like. Some tracks, she doesn’t seem to run as well on. We don’t have anything in mind (for her next race) but I’m sure it will have something to do with Churchill Downs.”
“We sure hoped she’d like the track," Dizney said of Joint Effort. "She just kept coming and we kept hoping. She’s lightly raced, so you never know what kind of a race she’s going to throw at you. My wife and I are big race fans and we just love to win.”
The winner paid $14.60, $6.40 and $5.20, topping a $38.40 exacta with Take D' Tour, who returned $3.20 and $2.60. Getback Time, who has finished in the money in 10 successive starts, including four victories, was $7.80 to show.