LOUISVILLE, KY – Making her fifth career start over that many tracks, Jaywalk crossed over Serengeti Empress midway through the first turn, then fought hard in the stretch to prevail successful in Friday’s Grade 1, $2,000,000 Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs.
Breaking well from post 7 under Joel Rosario at 11/2 odds, Jaywalk competed with Serengeti Empress (breaking from post 2) for the lead heading into the first turn, and though Serengeti Empress was initially safe along the rail, Jaywalk crossed over and secured command. The John Servis trainee then posted quick splits of :23.23, :46.76, and 1:11.48 while Serengeti Empress sat a length off down the backside. Heading into the far turn, Jaywalk was soon met with bids from the 9/5 favorite Bellafina and Vibrance, but the filly shook them both off. A brief final challenge from Restless Rider was met with similar disdain before Jaywalk drew off convincingly in the stretch to win by 5 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:43.62 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“It was a perfect trip,” Rosario said. “She broke and she wanted the lead. She just improved her position. She really relaxed. She broke really sharp and wanted one thing – she wanted to go, so I dropped my hands and let her be happy and let her do it the rest of the way.”
Though unable to seriously threaten the winner, Restless Rider was able to hold off Vibrance by a 1/2-length. Bellafina, who perhaps fell victim to a tough trip, was relegated to fourth ahead of Cassies Dreamer, with Sippican Harbor beating Serengeti Empress by a 1/2-length for sixth. Splashy Kisses, Reflect, and Baby Nina were strung out far behind while completing the order of finish.
Jaywalk’s win was her fourth straight, including a similar gate-to-wire score last out in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park. The D J Stable and Cash is King-owned daughter of Cross Traffic now carries a record of 5-4-1-0 with earnings of $1,384,200 – a strong return on the $190,000 that Servis paid for her as a yearling.
“I was looking for a big effort from her, but I didn’t expect for her to go to the lead again,” Servis said. “I really thought there was enough speed in here that she’d probably be sitting off it a bit, but Joel said when she left the gate, he knew right then she had running on her mind, and he just took it from there. Once she got the front, she started flicking her ears and looked nice and relaxed.”
Jaywalk returned $13 to win, $5.20 to place, and $4.20 to show. Restless Rider brought back $4 to place and $3.20 to show, while Vibrance paid $10.80 to show.