Just Jenda in the Molly Pitcher Stakes.

Just Jenda in the Molly Pitcher Stakes.

Deja Puglisi/EQUI-PHOTO

In Final Start, Just Jenda Tops Malibu Prayer

Jones filly wins Molly Pitcher by 3 1/2 lengths for fourth Monmouth stakes victory.

Just Jenda went out a winner when she overtook odds-on favorite Malibu Prayer in upper stretch and rolled to an easy 3 1/2-length victory in the $294,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes (gr. II) Aug. 29 (VIDEO) . It was the fourth stakes win in five races at Monmouth Park for the 4-year-old daughter of Menifee.

Terry Thompson drove Just Jenda to victory for trainer Cindy Jones, who owns the bay filly with her husband Larry. Just Jenda, who pulled a shoulder muscle when she finished third behind Malibu Prayer in the Lighthouse Stakes at Monmouth June 26, made her final start.

“What a way to go out,” Cindy Jones said. “She was on top of her game and the race just worked out perfectly. She didn’t have to chase the speed today, but could sit back and relax. This was a real tough field and we couldn’t be more proud of her.”

The final time for the Molly Pitcher was 1:43.52 on a fast track in the 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares. Malibu Prayer, the Ruffian Invitational Handicap (gr. I) winner ridden by Garrett Gomez, finished second, with the closing Milwaukee Appeal third with Stewart Elliott aboard.

Breaking from the rail, 3-5 choice Malibu Prayer went to the lead for Gomez but soon settled into second as 46-1 shot Stage Trick hustled her way to the front and opened up a 2 1/2-length lead. Fractions were realistic -- :23.63 and :47.62 -- before Malibu Prayer reeled in Stage Trick while completing six furlongs in 1:11.78. Just Jenda, rallying on the outside for Thompson from third, put the pressure on midway on the final turn. 

Just Jenda and Malibu Prayer dueled into the lane before Just Jenda got the lead and inched away to a one-length advantage at the eighth pole. Malibu Prayer, under urging from Gomez, tried desperately to keep up as Just Jenda drew away under urging from Thompson, angling out in deep stretch but to no avail. Malibu Prayer finished two lengths clear of Milwaukee Appeal, who was followed by Queen Martha and Stage Trick in the field of five.

Malibu Prayer defeated Just Jenda by five lengths in the Lighthouse. That was the most recent start for Just Jenda, who took July off with the shoulder injury but returned breathing fire at Delaware Park this month for Jones. She posted bullet workouts at Delaware Aug. 16 and Aug. 24.

"When she works fast, she runs fast," Cindy Jones said. "She went :58 and four at Delaware the other day."

Just Jenda, who defeated Malibu Prayer by 4 1/4 lengths in last summer's Monmouth Oaks (gr. III), won for the eighth time in 17 lifetime starts, earning $180,000 for the victory. That boosted her career bankroll to $750,680. According to her connections, Just Jenda will be bred to Proud Citizen in Kentucky.

Lavin Bloodstock Services bred Just Jenda in Kentucky. She is out of Liberty School, by Pine Bluff.

The second choice in the short field, Just Jenda carried 117 pounds -- six fewer than Malibu Prayer -- and paid $8, $3, and $2.20. Malibu Prayer, who won the Ruffian in front-running style at Saratoga Aug. 1, returned $2.40 and $2.10 and completed a $16 exacta. Milwaukee Appeal, winless in 10 starts since taking the Woodbine Oaks last spring, was $2.80 to show.

Unforgotten was scratched.