Sensational 3-year-old filly Justwhistledixie notched her fifth consecutive victory in the $200,000 Bonnie Miss (gr. II) (VIDEO) March 27 at Gulfstream Park, further stamping herself as one of the top Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) contenders.
Sent off as the odds-on choice under Julien Leparoux, Justwhistledixie received a comfortable four-wide trip while sitting off of a hot pace set by second choice Gatorette. Ridden by Eibar Coa, Gatorette broke awkwardly and was rank in the early stages of the 1 1/8-mile dirt contest, causing her to post suicidal fractions of :23.33, :46.29 and 1:10.15. Justwhistledixie made her winning move around the final turn.
By the time the field of six turned for home, Casanova Move and Justwhistledixie were well clear of the rest of the field. Justwhistledixie edged away from Casanova Move in upper stretch and powered home for a 1 3/4-length score. Her final time on the fast main track was 1:49.25.
Casanova Move was a clear second under Jose Lezcano, 10 1/2-lengths better than 65-1 Hopeful Image and Rene Douglas.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and partners, Justwhistledixie won her fourth consecutive start in stakes company and is a perfect three-for-three as a sophomore. She entered the Bonnie Miss off convincing wins in the Jan. 4 Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct and March 1 Davona Dale (gr. II) at Gulfstream. This was her first two-turn effort for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Leparoux, taking over for regular rider Alan Garcia, who is in Dubai for the World Cup, rode Justwhistledixie for the first time.
“We got the outside post and I was just keeping an eye on (Gatorette)," Leparoux said. "She was the speed. We didn’t really want to rush (out of the gate). I was waiting to let her go and she did the rest. Today, she won because she is a very good horse and better than the rest of them. I really didn’t do anything special.”
A daughter of Dixie Union—General Jeanne, by Honour and Glory, Justwhistledixie was bred in Kentucky by Hermitage Farm. She was a $425,000 yearling in 2007. The dark bay filly has now earned $337,927.
The winner paid $3.20, $2.20, and $2.10. The exacta (6-1) returned $7.80, and the trifecta (6-1-4) was worth $53.10 for $1.
“I thought she would be a little closer early, but (Gatorette) was really going fast," said Neil McLaughlin, who saddled the winner for his brother, who is in Dubai with Albertus Maximus . "Julien did a great job and just laid back. We had the outside post, which let him see everything develop. We felt all along that she would handle the two turns with no problem, and she did.
"She’ll fly to Kentucky (March 30) and train at Keeneland until we move over to Churchill and get ready to run in the (Kentucky) Oaks.”