ELMONT, NY – Team Valor International homebred Oleksandra overcame a poor start with an absolutely smashing flurry in the lane to clinch Saturday’s $250,000 Jaipur Stakes Presented by America’s Best Racing (G1) at Belmont Park.
The Jaipur is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Oleksandra receiving an automatic berth in the Turf Sprint at Keeneland this November.
Sent away from post 2 under Joel Rosario as the 2/1 favorite, Oleksandra bumped with the rail-breaking Kanthaka out of the gate and was far back early on. Hidden Scroll initially held command before Pure Sensation came up along his inside to lead narrowly.
The two fought heads apart through opening fractions of :21.33 and :43.62, but at the top of the stretch, Stubbins emerged with a lead. That was short-lived because Texas Wedge and Kanthaka came two- and three-wide past him to steal it away.
Kanthaka had the outside advantage on Texas Wedge and looked momentarily as if he might draw away to win, but Rosario had Oleksandra motoring like a freight train from last and met Kanthaka’s side inside the 1/16 pole. Getting her neck down on the wire first, the Neil Drysdale trainee crossed in a final time of 1:06.80, just 0.06 seconds off of the track record that Tombelaine set in 2018.
“Coming out the gate, the horse to the inside got me a little bit,” Rosario said. “I just let her be there, which she likes to do. She put up a great performance and did well in the end. She’s an amazing horse. … The fast pace was probably why I was further back, but she came with a great run in the end. We do well together. You just need to understand her and what she wants to do during the race.”
Though nailed at the stretch, Kanthaka was 1 1/4 lengths clear of Texas Wedge, while 3/4 of a length behind him a weakening Stubbins held off White Flag by a neck. Lonhtwist, Pure Sensation, and Hidden Scroll completed the order of finish.
Oleksandra’s win came in her Grade 1 debut and was her second at the graded stakes level, having won last October’s Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. The 6-year-old Australian-bred Animal Kingdom mare now sports a record of 15-7-3-3 with $537,353 earned.
“We’ll have to discuss (her next move) with Mr. Barry Irwin (of Team Valor International),” Drysdale said. “Obviously, her final call of the year would be the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, and she’s won there before.”
Oleksandra returned $6.50 to win, $3.70 to place, and $3 to show. Kanthaka brought back $11 to place and $5.70 to show, while Texas Wedge paid $4.90 to show.