Just Jenda served noticed she is a force to be reckoned with in the 3-year-old filly division, as she followed up last month’s dominating stakes win at Monmouth Park with another convincing score, this one in the $200,000 Monmouth Oaks (gr. III) (VIDEO) Aug. 15.
Sent off as the odds-on favorite in a field of 10, Just Jenda stalked the pace while sitting third through the backstretch, edged closer to the leaders on the far turn, and found another gear at the eighth-pole under Gabriel Saez. The daughter of Menifee roared by Malibu Prayer and Hightap at the top of the stretch and extended her lead with every stride. The chestnut filly eventual hit the wire 4 1/4 lengths in front while covering 1 1/16 miles on the ‘fast’ main track in 1:43.69.
Malibu Prayer, who set the pace under Chris DeCarlo, fought gamely along the rail to out-finish Hightap by a half-length for runner-up. The Delaware Oaks (gr. II) runner-up from last month, Malibu Prayer posted early fractions of :24.19, :48.67, and 1:12.94 before being tackled by Just Jenda at the top of the lane.
“I really just wanted to give her a clear trip,” Saez said. “I got in a little tight heading into the first turn, but she overcame it without a problem. I was just waiting in behind the early leaders and waiting for the right time to let her go. I moved her to the outside and she just went right on by the early pacesetters. I knew I was on the best horse and she really proved it.”
It was the fifth blacktype victory for Just Jenda and her second graded stakes score. The Honeybee (gr. III) winner back in March at Oaklawn Park, she entered the Oaks off an 8 1/4-length romp in the July 19 Serena’s Song Stakes, also at Monmouth.
Larry Jones trains Just Jenda for his wife, Cindy.
“She’s an excellent filly,” Larry Jones said. “This race was our main goal, so from here I don’t know where we’ll go. She’s good at one turn or two. I think we’ll try her at Keeneland. She trained real well on the synthetic. If she runs well there, the Breeders’ Cup is certainly an option for her.
“Right now, we’re just going to enjoy this win. She’ll be back next year, provided she stays healthy. Cindy will be the trainer next year.”
Just Jenda, who was bred in Kentucky by Lavin Bloodstock Services and is out of the Pine Bluff mare Liberty School, also has posted stakes wins in the Brandywine at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack as a juvenile, and the Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds earlier this season. Overall, she has won six times from 10 starts and has earned $414,380.
Sent off at odds of 7-10, Just Jenda paid $3.40, $2.60, and $2.10. A $2 exacta (3-9) returned $14 and the $1 trifecta (3-9-2) was $21.70.