Just Louise made a sparkling stakes debut June 26 at Churchill Downs, relinquishing the lead on the turn, then coming back in the final jump to win the $108,800 Debutante (gr. III) (VIDEO) by a neck.
Undefeated in two starts for Eldon Farm Equine, Just Louise was ridden to victory by Robby Albarado. Dale Romans trains the daughter of Five Star Day.
It was an eventful six furlongs in the Debutante, as longshot Big Sweets and odds-on favorite Salty Strike dueled through a blistering opening quarter-mile in :21.14. Just Louise tracked the leaders closely, then came up to take the lead on the turn while racing from the three-path. The chestnut filly hit the quarter-pole with a narrow advantage after running a half-mile in :44.73, but Salty Strike came back at her on the rail with Calvin Borel aboard, eventually forging a half-length lead at the eighth-pole.
It looked as though Salty Strike was going to get away from her rival in upper stretch, but Just Louise had more left, inching closer again inside the sixteenth-pole and drawing even in the final strides. Meanwhile, longshot Tristanme was flying on the outside under Shaun Bridgmohan and the three hit the wire together. Just Louise was the winner by a neck over Tristanme, with Salty Strike another nose back in third.
The final time on a fast main track was 1:11.85.
“She won very impressive,” Albarado said. “Last time she beat a bunch of good maidens, and the same with Salty Strike. I had an option to ride either one and you could split them. But the way her (Just Louise) running style fits just in case she gets behind horses.
“She ran big. I had to keep her running down the stretch. She kind of looked around a little bit, they battled back and forth and she got her head in front.”
Just Louise, who was bred in Kentucky by Paul Gardner, is a half sister to multiple graded stakes winner Sara Louise, whose wins include the 2008 Pocahontas (gr. III) at Churchill. She is out of the Mt. Livermore mare Kings Lynn.
Just Louise broke her maiden in her May 28 debut at Churchill by 3 1/4 lengths in a five-furlong race. She has now earned $94,907.
“She’s a very nice filly and she’s just like her sister,” Romans said. “This race is something for her to improve off of. She dug in game. I thought at the top of the lane it would open up, but you know Calvin had a lot of horse, and it was a dogfight to the end. She will point toward the Saratoga meet.”
The second choice in the field of seven, Just Louise returned $5.60, $3.80, and $2.20. Tristanme, sent off at 25-1, returned $16 and $5 and filled out a $94.60 exacta (6-5). The trifecta (6-5-1) with Salty Strike was $230.60.