Jill Robin L, beaten in each of her last two tries by In the Gold, turned the tables in Saturday's $150,000 Bonnie Miss (gr. II) with new rider Jerry Bailey at Gulfstream Park.
After breaking with the leaders in the 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-old fillies, Bailey took Jill Robin L back off the quick early pace, coming on in deep stretch on the outside to nip favored In the Gold and Pat Day by a nose at the wire. The final time on a "good" surface was 1:53.
"It was a battle of attrition at the end," said Bailey, who captured his fifth Bonnie Miss. "It came down to who was the fittest horse. It wasn't a dash in the last quarter. It turned into a battle of will and stamina."
Jill Robin L registered her first stakes victory for owners Robert Braunsdorf and Robert Levine, who also trains her.
In the Gold was stuck wide all the way into the stretch, but she gamely overcame Aspen Tree inside the eighth pole and just barely failed to last in the final strides. Aspen Tree, with Javier Castellano in the saddle, took third, 2 3/4 lengths behind the first two.
"Turning for home I thought we were running for second money," said Day, "but then she started to jump into it and, in the last little bit, I knew I had (Aspen Tree). I got by her, but then I saw Jerry coming on the outside, and I started hoping the wire would get there a little quicker."
In the Gold won a Gulfstream allowance race by 1 1/2 lengths over Jill Robin L on Jan. 13. She then finished 1 1/4 lengths to the good of her rival while a distant second to Sis City in the Davona Dale (gr. II), her last start at Gulfstream Feb. 5.
"We had high feelings for this horse for some time, but we hadn't been getting much attention," said Braunsdorf, whose partner Levine was home sick in New Jersey. "I said if we get Bailey to ride this horse, maybe we'll get some attention. In this race we had about a length and a half to make up in the stretch, and I think Bailey did that for us today."
In the Gold was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the Bonnie Miss while Jill Robin L, a Florida-bred daughter of Precocity
trained by Robert Livine, was an overlay at odds of 10-1 in the field of seven.
Aspen Tree fought through a lively pace battle involving Annette's Jet, who broke best as they completed an opening quarter mile of :23 2/5, Pleasant Chimes and In the Gold. Pleasant Chimes and Aspen Tree continued to slug it out through four furlongs In :46 3/5 with In the Gold on their outside before Aspen Tree kicked away at the top of the stretch. They completed six furlongs in 1:11 1/5 and the mile in 1:38 3/5. But in the final furlong, Aspen Tree hit the wall as In the Gold wrestled the lead away.
It was the second win in 11 career starts for Jill Robin L, who also has three seconds and a third. With the victory, she more than doubled her lifetime earnings to $162,270.
John Franks bred the winner, a $25,000 Ocala buy as a 2-year-old. She was produced by the Vilzak mare Jo Zak.
Jill Robin L paid $22.40, $7.20 and $4. In the Gold returned $4 and $2.80, completing a $54.60 exacta. Aspen Tree was $2.80 to show.
Pleasant Chimes, Sweet Talker, who stumbled at the break, Annette's Jet and Cool Spell followed.