Outsider My Jen was there to pick up the pieces when favored Rapport gave way in the homestretch, heading another longshot, Moontune Missy, by a head at the wire in the $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) Sept. 25 at Belmont Park.
Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Windmill Manor Farm's homebred 3-year-old daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus —Mekko Hokte, by Holy Bull, earned a berth in the $1 million Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. She was sent off at odds of 12-1 for her first graded stakes victory.
With Julien Leparoux abaord, My Jen was timed in 1:17.13 on a fast track for the 6 1/2-furlong Gallant Bloom. The BC Filly & Mare Sprint will be run at seven furlongs.
“Around the turn, she started to go backwards, and I was a little worried about that, but she has a big heart,” said Leparoux. “I was confident that she would give me a good run and she did.”
My Jen stalked the pacesetter, 9-5 choice Rapport, from mid-pack into the stretch and had three to beat approaching the eighth pole. She came home under a steady right-handed stick late to catch 25-1 Moontune Missy right before the line. Second-choice Sara Louise, who missed in this race by a head to champion Indian Blessing last year, ran on well to edge Qualia by a neck for third in the field of eight fillies and mares.
With Edgar Prado aboard, Sara Louise, a grade II winner late last year, was making her first start of 2010.
Rapport, ridden by Martin Garcia for trainer Bob Baffert was favored off her 3 1/2-length triumph in Saratoga's Victory Ride Stakes (gr. III) Aug. 28. She led the field through a quarter-mile in :22.85 and the half in :46.16, but was unable to shake Qualia. Both were found wanting in the final furlong as Moontune Missy and Alan Garcia grabbed the advantage and appeared headed for victory in deep stretch.
Garcia said the favorite “never felt comfortable.”
“She just didn’t respond like I was waiting for,” he said
My Jen ran second to Rapport in the Victory Ride, which came off a layoff of more than eight months. The gray/roan filly won the first three races of her career last year and improved her overall mark to 4-1-0 in six races. The $90,000 winning share boosted her earnings to $191,000.
“That was a big effort that day, and we knew she’d benefit from that and move forward for today’s race, which she did,” said Kenneally.
As far as a Breeders' Cup date, Kenneally said, “We’ll see. It’s a 3-year-old filly running against older horses, but she did it today.”
Kenneally, who also trains Filly & Mare Sprint hopeful Warbling. added, “Who knows? Maybe they’ll both run.”
Petaluma Bloodstock bred the winner in partnership with Windmill Manor Farm.
My Jen carried 115 pounds and paid $26.60, $13 and $6.60 as the fifth choice.
Moontune Missy, in her best stakes effort to date for trainer Eoin Harty, returned $19.80 and $7.80 and rounded out a $378.50 exacta.
“I was disappointed that she didn’t win, but I was delighted that she ran as well as she did," Harty said. "It’s a long stretch.”
Sara Louise, in her first appearance since since winning Aqueduct's Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) Nov. 27, was $3.80 to show while toting top weight of 119.
Qualia was followed by Pretty Prolific, Rapport, Lovely Lil and Devil by Design. First Passage was scratched.