By Jerry Bossert
Owner Ahmed Zayat celebrated his 52nd birthday in style Aug. 31 when even-money choice Jojo Warrior led them start to finish to take the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) from Del Mar.
Zayat, a native of Cairo, Egypt, owns and bred Jojo Warrior, who is by Zayat's 2009 Santa Anita Derby winner (gr. I) and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) runner-up Pioneerof the Nile. She is out of the stakes-placed Carson City mare Carson Jen.
Sent right to the front in the one-mile Polytrack test for 3-year-old fillies by jockey Martin Garcia, Jojo Warrior never looked back, holding off the late run from Tiz Kissable to prevail by three-quarters of a length. She won for the third time from six starts in her career for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Wearing the turquoise and gold colors of Zayat Stables, Jojo Warrior was making her first start since taking the Summertime Oaks (gr. II), formerly the Hollywood Oaks, at Santa Anita Park June 21.
"She was just screaming out for two turns," noted Baffert about the turn-around in form for Jojo Warrior. "The dam has been getting mostly sprinters, but I think the Pioneerof the Nile (sire genetic influence) really moves her up for distance. I knew she was very fit and we’ve been waiting for this race."
The 3-year-old filly broke her maiden impressively in her debut Sept. 2 of last year at Del Mar in her lone start as a 2-year-old before dropping her first three decisions this year.
The homebred filly wired the field in the Summertime Oaks, prevailing by 5 1/4 lengths, and did the same while shortening up in the Torrey Pines in 1:37.10.
Jojo Warrior maintained at least a length advantage over the stalking Fashion Plate in the field of six 3-year-old fillies as she rattled off manageable quarter mile fractions :23.37, :46.69, and 1:11.36. Fashion Plate gave way soon after as More Complexity and Thegirlinthatsong took up the pursuit.
"She’s just improving and improving," Garcia said. "The last time she ran she just came out of there so fast we just went on with it. This time I thought there was more speed in the race, but I wasn’t going to fight her. I just let her go and she did it from there. She’s a good filly and she showed it again today."
Jojo Warrior opened up by two lengths at the furlong mark and held on gamely under urging from Garcia as Tiz Kissable rallied from last to get up for second as the longest shot on the board at nearly 10-1. She was followed by Thegirlinthatsong, More Complexity, Fashion Plate, and Margot Machance.
Jojo Warrior returned $4 to win, $2.80 to place and $2.40 to show. Tiz Kissable paid $5.80 to place and $3.60 to show, while Thegirlinthatsong returned $3.40 to show.
Delta Flower was an early scratch from the race by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Jojo Warrior, who extended her earnings to $260,781, is a half sister to graded stakes winner E Z Warrior.