Alex G. Campbell's Bernadette the Jet, a chestnut daughter of 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, is set to make her career debut in Friday's eighth race at Laurel Park, a $40,000 maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies going 5 ½ furlongs on the Kelso turf course.
Out of the Saint Ballado mare Saint Bernadette, Graham Motion-trained Bernadette the Jet fetched $425,000 at Keeneland's September 2018 yearling sale. She was purchased by Campbell after failing to meet her $485,000 reserve at Fasig-Tipton's 2-year-old in training sale in March at Gulfstream Park.
“She's a horse we bought privately after the sale in Florida. She's a filly that's handled the dirt and handled the synthetic, so we're in on the grass on Friday but we'll run either way. Even if it were to come off the grass, I'd still run her,” Motion said. “I often like to start my 2-year-olds on the grass just because I think it's a little bit easier on them. They don't get all the kickback.”
Bernadette the Jet drew Post 2 in a field that attracted an overflow field of 13, with 2018 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice Weston Hamilton named to ride. She has worked steadily since mid-May at Fair Hill Training Center for her unveiling, most recently firing a bullet five furlongs in 1:01.60 over its main track July 20.
“She's kind of done everything since we bought her pretty forwardly. She's a little bit on the small side. She's still developing but she's done everything professionally enough,” Motion said. “I haven't missed any time with her.”
Bernadette the Jet is a half-sister to Social Inclusion, third in the Preakness (G1), Wood Memorial (G1) and Woody Stephens (G2) in 2014, and Road to Damascus, placed third in the 2018 Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park. She is among the first crop of American Pharoah's offspring to race.
“Obviously that was part of the appeal. There was quite a lot of hype around the American Pharoahs when we bought her. It's interesting that they seem to be running well on the grass; I guess it wouldn't be a complete surprise with American Pharoah's pedigree,” Motion said. “She's precocious enough. She may need a race; a lot of my horses do first time out, but certainly she's fit and ready to go.”
Motion was also pleased with the effort of Skeedattle Stable's Just Howard, Maryland's champion 3-year-old, turf horse and Horse of the Year in 2017. The 5-year-old snapped a hard-luck five-race losing streak with a gutsy head victory over two-time Grade 1 winner and fellow Fair Hill resident Divisidero in the Oceanport (G3) July 20 at Monmouth Park.
“That was neat. I was really happy for him,” Motion said. “He's such a cool horse, and he deserved to win. He ran very hard, too.”
It was the fourth career stakes triumph for Just Howard and first since he became a graded winner in the 2017 Commonwealth Derby (G3) at Laurel to cap a four-race win streak. Motion said the son of turf champion English Channel may return to Laurel for a third straight try at the $75,000 Find Stakes, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 17.
Just Howard won the 1 1/16-mile Find for Maryland-bred/sired horses 3 and up in 2017 and finished eighth last year when the race was rained off the grass and onto the main track.
“We had always planned on running in the [Find],” Motion said. “We haven't discussed that since we won the other day, but right now I would stay that's probably still in the cards.”
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