Fox Hill Farms' Jostle earned her second consecutive grade I victory Saturday, beating Secret Status to the wire by 3 3/4 lengths in the $750,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. Under jockey Mike Smith, the 3-year-old daughter of Brocco, out of the Drone mare Moon Drone, completed the 1 1/4-miles in 2:04.72 while running over a fast track.
Despite the entry of stablemate and rabbit Valleydar, Secret Status raced close up early as the former set a moderate pace of :24.10 for the opening quarter. Valleydar continued along through a half-mile in :48.75 as Secret Status shuffled back along the rail to fourth, just behind second-place Spain and third-place Jostle.
"I rode her to win," said Valledar's jockey Aaron Gryder. "I was told to ride her to win. I just let her go to the front and tried to get her in stride and be comfortable."
Valleydar completed six furlongs in 1:13.22, leading by a length over Spain with Secret Status now fifth. Valleydar dropped back as Spain and Jostle raced heads apart into the stretch with Jostle maintaining the lead. Jostle quickly kicked clear, extending her lead to 3 3/4 lengths at the wire.
"They were walking," said Pat Day, who rode Secret Status. "The other half of the entry went out there and went :24 and :48 and change. My filly jumped right up into the race and she's capable of running that way. Midway up the backside, I guess she got tired of me tucking her up."
Secret Status finished second, a length ahead of Spain. Critical Eye was another head back in fourth, followed by Classy Cara, Resort, Sincerely, and Valleydar.
"The race unfolded like I pictured it in my mind," said Smith. "I had a handful of horse throughout the race and she jumped into the bridle all the way through the stretch."
Jostle completed her juvenile campaign with four consecutive wins, including a victory over March Magic in the Demoiselle (gr. II) at Aqueduct in November. After starting her sophomore season with three losses, she earned a 2 1/2-length victory in the Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) in May. She followed that with a second-place finish to Secret Status in the Mother Goose (gr. I) in June before evening the score with that rival with a win in the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), in which Secret Status finished third. Jostle was bred in Kentucky by Prestonwood Farm Inc. and is trained by John Servis. She earned $450,000 for the win, bringing her career earnings over $1-million. The win is her seventh from 12 career starts.
"As far as the 3-year-old filly championship goes, I don't know what else you could ask for," said Servis. "Everyone talks about how slow the fractions were in the Coaching Club, but no one said much about how fast they were in the Mother Goose. Jostle just keeps getting better. I was surprised she wasn't respected on the board. Maybe now, she'll get the respect she deserves."
As the second wagering choice, Jostle returned $9.50, $3.40, and $2.70. Secret Status paid $2.60 and $2.10. Spain was worth $2.80 to show. The winning exacta paid $19.