Eldon Farm Equine's JUST LOUISE (Five Star Day) prevailed in a thrilling 110th running of Saturday's $108,800 Debutante S. (G3), winning by a neck over the fast-closing Tristanme (Bwana Charlie) following a prolonged stretch battle with 3-5 favorite Salty Strike (Smart Strike). Making her stakes debut for Dale Romans, the juvenile filly remained perfect in two starts at Churchill Downs and completed six furlongs in 1:11 4/5 beneath Robby Albarado.
The 9-5 second choice among seven rivals, Just Louise stalked a length back of dueling pacesetters Salty Strike and Big Sweets (American Champ) through a wicked opening quarter-mile in :21. She circled three wide to strike the front on the far turn and entered the stretch with a one-length advantage, passing the half-mile mark in :44 3/5, but Salty Strike wasn't through down on the rail and fought back to regain a narrow lead. The two fillies slugged it out through the final eighth of mile, with Just Louise edging past in the final strides, but she wasn't home free yet as Tristanme came flying late on the far outside to just miss in the shadow of the wire.
"She's a very a nice filly, very smart," said Albarado, who recorded his 64th Churchill Downs stakes win (second all time behind Pat Day's 156), including three victories in the Debutante. "I got lucky with my draw on the outside (post 6), which was good for her. She won very impressive. Last time she beat a bunch of good maidens, and the same with Salty Strike (who Albarado rode in her previous outing).
"I had an option to ride either one and you could split them," Albarado added. "But the way her (Just Louise) running style is fits just in case she gets behind horses. She ran big. I had to keep her running down the stretch. She kind of looked around a little bit, they battled back and forth and she got her head in front."
The winner paid $5.60, $3.80 and $2.20. Tristanme, a 25-1 longshot in her dirt debut, returned $16 and $5 and capped a $94.60 exacta. Salty Strike, who wound up only a neck back of second in the tight three-horse finish, was good for $2.10. The trifecta totaled $230.60 and the 6-5-1-7 superfecta, with the 12-1 Internet Cafe (Freefourinternet) a long way back in fourth, was worth $1,070.60. Tater Taunter (Consolidator), Bach Hamilton (Cherokee Run) and Big Sweets rounded out the order of finish
A half-sister to Grade 2 winner Sara Louise (Malibu Moon), Just Louise was bred in Kentucky by Paul F. Gardner and was purchased by her connections for $75,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale. She entered the Debutante off a sharp 3 1/4-length debut win over maiden special weight rivals on May 28.
"She's a very nice filly and she's just like her sister (Sara Louise)," said Romans, who trained Sara Louise to a victory in the 2008 Pocahontas S. (G3) before she was sold to Godolphin. "This race is something for her to improve off of. She dug in game. I thought at the top of the lane it would open up, but you know Calvin (Borel aboard Salty Strike) had a lot of horse, and it was a dogfight to the end. She will point toward the Saratoga meet."
Just Louise is out of the Grade 3-placed Kings Lynn (Mt. Livermore), who is also the dam of multiple Mexican stakes winner Jacobino (Deputy Commander) and a yearling filly by Sharp Humor. Kings Lynn is a daughter of Grade 3 victress Til Forbid (Temperence Hill), who placed in the 1991 Kentucky Oaks (G1), Alabama S. (G1), Ashland S. (G1) and Spinster S. (G1). Til Forbid also produced Grade 3 heroine Scoop (Gone West), herself the dam of multiple Grade 3-placed stakes victress Coolwind (Forest Wildcat), and this is the same family as Grade 2 scorer Softly (Binalong) as well as Grade 3 winners Hold Old Blue (Seattle Song) and Coragil Cat (Forest Wildcat).