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Longshot Juanita Upsets Plum Pretty in La Troienne
William S. and Graydon Patterson’s Juanita ran past 2-5 favorite Plum Pretty at the head the stretch and then held off St. John’s River by two lengths to win the 27th running of the $327,000 La Troienne Presented by Steelcase and ORI (Grade II) for fillies and mares Friday afternoon.
Trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Ramon Dominguez, Juanita tracked Plum Pretty and Rafael Bejarano through fractions of :24.39, :48.36 and 1:11.74. Turning for home, Juanita pushed ahead of last year’s Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner and had more than enough to fend off St. John’s River and complete the 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:42.82.
A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Mineshaft out of the Smart Strike mare Wishful Splendor, Juanita improved her record to 16-6-3-3 and boosted her bankroll to $485,327 with Friday’s $198,685 check.
Juanita rewarded her backers in the Kentucky Oaks Day crowd with mutuels of $35.40, $13.20 and $5. St. John’s River, runner-up in last year’s Kentucky Oaks and ridden by Rosie Napravnik, returned $7 and $3.20 with Plum Pretty finishing a length back in third and returning $2.10 to show.
It was five lengths back to Absinthe Minded in fourth with Afleeting Lady, Maristar and Love Theway Youare completing the field in order.
LA TROIENNE QUOTES
RAMON DOMINGUEZ (Jockey, Juanita, first) – “The favorite went to the lead and I was happy to sit right next to her. When we got to the half-mile pole I was feeling pretty good just by looking at Plum Pretty and seeing that she was already being encouraged a little bit. At that point I felt like I had more horse than her, just visually, looking at her and how mine felt.
“(Trainer) Mike [Maker] is a guy that I respect very much. He and I seem to always be on the same page. There are few words exchanged prior to the race. If there’s something I need to know he will tell me, otherwise he usually lets me play it by ear and that was the case today. He just let me ride my race and it worked out great.”
MIKE MAKER (Trainer, Juanita, first) – “I have to give all the credit for claiming her to the owner, Mr. Patterson. He picked her out. It was all him. It sure has worked out well.
“Her style is to be forwardly placed and she’s been doing great. She ran just behind Havre De Grace last time so we gave it a shot. We were going to run in Chicago, but when they retired Havre de Grace, it made the decision easy.”
RAFAEL BEJARANO (Jockey, Plum Pretty, third, beaten favorite) – “I was very comfortable on the lead. I thought I was going to gallop after a half-mile because we were going so slow and I was really comfortable. For some reason, when we felt the other horse come running next to me, I let her go. She showed me a good kick and it looked like she was going to keep running, but she showed me the same thing the last time when she ran here in the Breeders’ Cup (Ladies’ Classic). I was real easy on the lead and she stopped right away in the stretch.
"There was no excuse. She had a good trip. There was no pressure, but she just quit in the stretch."
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2012, and its Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.