For the third time in nine weeks, Cindy Jones’ Just Jenda and Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Four Gifts will have a showdown as they head a field of eight 3-year-old fillies in the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 7 at Fair Grounds.
The 1 1/16-mile Silverbulletday, which serves as the final local prep for the March 14 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), is the eighth race on the six-stakes Louisiana Derby Preview Day card, with post time scheduled for 3:55 p.m. CST.
Just Jenda and Four Gifts first met in the one-mile Delta Princess (gr. III) at Delta Downs Dec. 5, where the latter filly scored a 2 1/4-length win and Just Jenda finished fifth.
Five weeks later in the Tiffany Lass Stakes at Fair Grounds, also at a mile, Just Jenda turned the tables with a 1 3/4-length score, with Four Gifts checking in third.
Just Jenda, a daughter of Menifee, out of the Pine Bluff mare Liberty School, was bred in Kentucky by Lavin Bloodstock Services. Trained by Jones’ husband Larry, she drew post seven for the Silverbulletday and is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Boasting a record of three victories from four lifetime starts, she will be ridden by regular rider Terry Thompson.
“She won the prep for this race (the Tiffany Lass), and she’s done everything right,” said Larry Jones. “We just keep stepping her up one notch at a time. She’s doing things fast enough, and after her Tiffany Lass (win), the numbers she got out of it puts her right in context of this race.”
Jones chalked up Just Jenda’s loss in the Delta Princess to a poor trip and not handling the racetrack well.
“She has proven that she handles Fair Grounds’ track really well, or as good as any track she’s been on,” he said. “But we think both the fillies (Just Jenda and Four Gifts) rank right there as being the top choices. I know our filly is doing very well right now, and that’s kind of all I can concern myself with. It looks like it should be a good race. There are some really quality fillies in here.”
Four Gifts, the early 3-1 second choice, is conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen. Six-time Fair Grounds leading rider Robby Albarado will break the daughter of Even the Score --Agiftfromservice, by Service Stripe from the one hole.
With the Delta Princess score under her girth, Four Gifts, who was bred in Kentucky by Millennium Farms, has earned an impressive $361,029 from six starts, a sum more than double that of her nemesis Just Jenda.
Owned by Rolando Cabral and trained by Olivo Inirio, Southern Yankee won last year’s My Trusty Cat Stakes at Delta Downs before launching her 3-year-old campaign with a victory in the Genesis Stakes, also at the Vinton, La. track.
War Tigress, who will make her 2009 debut and her initial start on dirt, has won three of her four starts, including last year’s Caressing Handicap on the turf at Churchill Downs. Owned by Ann Lynch, she will be saddled by Jeffrey Thornbury.
With an impressive third-place effort in the 2008 Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, and a respectable fourth in the Frizette Stakes (gr. I), War Echo will also look to challenge in the Silverbulletday.
Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, the daughter of Tapit seeks to add her first victory to her resume.
Rounding out the field in the Silverbulletday are stakes-placed runner More of the Best; and winners Garter Belt and Flying Spur.
Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. III), $150,000, Feb. 7, 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles, approx. post 3:55 p.m. EST
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Four Gifts, 122, Robby Albarado
2. More of the Best, 116, Jesus Castanon
3. War Echo, 116, Shaun Bridgmohan
4. Flying Spur, 116, Patrick Valenzuela
5. Garter Belt, 116, Corey Lanerie
6. Southern Yankee, 122, Gabriel Saez
7. Just Jenda, 122, Terry Thompson
8. War Tigress, 120, Brian Hernandez Jr.