Godolphin Stable's heavily favored Stellar Jayne made her final start a winning one Friday, wearing down the pacesetting Bohemian Lady in the final strides to win the $150,000 Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at Aqueduct.
Ridden by Jerry Bailey, the 4-year-old Stellar Jayne was under a long drive but still had two lengths to make up on the tiring – and weaving – Bohemian Lady inside the final furlong of the one-turn mile event. The striking gray/roan got the job done, however, edging away at the wire to win by a half-length. Stellar Jayne carried top weight of 123 pounds, eight more than the runner-up.
The winning time was 1:35 4/5.
The multiple grade I winner Stellar Jayne, who is headed for the breeding shed, was to have had her retirement party following last month's Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). But after a disappointing fourth-place finish, defeated by nearly 12 lengths by Pleasant Home, her connections decided to give her one last start after a brief 2005 campaign. The filly, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, was sent off at 3-5 in the first start of her career at Aqueduct.
Stellar Jayne settled into fourth on the extreme outside down the backstretch as Bohemian Lady, ridden by Jose Santos, got away best. Bohemian Lady led the hard-pressing A Song in A Minor through a quick opening quarter mile of :22 3/5 and a half-mile in :45. Bohemian Lady shook loose briefly as A Song in A Minor fell back on the turn and was holding off Stellar Jayne through the lane. But she began to tire in the final eighth and gave way stubbornly as the two leaders fought to the finish.
"I figured if they outran me by any substantial margin, they were going too fast," Bailey said. "She didn't really feel comfortable in between horses, so opted to get her out. I really didn't think Bohemian Lady wanted to go that far off those early splits. I figured that if everybody ran according to form, I would get there."
Seeking the Ante finished third, four lengths behind the runner-up, nipping Cloakof Vagueness. A Song in A Minor, Ender's Sister, Last Song and Areek trailed.
Stellar Jayne, the daughter of Wild Rush-To the Hunt (Relaunch) won for the third time in four starts at the one-mile distance while improving her overall mark to 9-2-3 in 22 starts. The $90,000 winning purse increased her earnings to $1,534,964.
Stellar Jayne raced for most of her career in the barn of D. Wayne Lukas but was purchased by Godolphin for the 2005 season. Her resume includes grade I victories in the Mother Goose , Gazelle and Ruffian at Belmont Park. She will be retired to broodmare duties at Jonabell Farm in Kentucky.
"Bohemian Lady hung in really well," said Rick Mattee, bin Suroor's assistant. "Jerry was going to the stick at the three-sixteenths pole, so I knew it was going to be a tough race. I knew from about the eighth pole that she was going to grind Bohemian Lady down. Still, you like to see a 3-5 shot win a little easier than that. This was a nice way to go out. She leaves for Jonabell on Sunday."
She paid $3.40, $2.80 and $2.10. Bohemian Lady returned $5.40 and $4. Seeking the Ante, ridden by Mike Luzzi, was $3.60 to show.