Blue Heaven Farm's Starship Jubilee scored her first Grade 1 victory in Saturday's E. P. Taylor Stakes, improving from her fourth-place finish in this race last season. The 6-year-old daughter of Indy Wind and jockey Luis Contreras ran 1 1/4 miles over Woodbine's turf course rated “good” in 2:03.29, scoring as the 3-1 favorite in the field of 10. It was also the first Grade 1 win for trainer Kevin Attard, and Starship Jubilee achieved millionaire status with her victory.
A date in the Breeders' Cup could become a reality.
“It might be on the table now,” said Attard.
Red Tea jumped out to command the early lead, while Contreras allowed Starship Jubilee to get floated a little bit wide on the first turn to maintain his position near the frontrunner. When the jockeying for position settled down, Red Tea had a slight advantage over Starship Jubilee for the trip up the backstretch, setting fractions of :26.50, :52.07, and 1:17.34.
Starship Jubilee took over as the field turned toward the wire, and refused to be run down late when winning by a length. Durance closed well to finish second, just ahead of Platane in third. Imperial Charm finished fourth.
Bred in Florida by William P. Sorren, Starship Jubilee was a $6,500 yearling at the OBS August sale. She later RNA'd for $34,000 at the April 2-year-old in training sale, and early in her career was twice claimed for $16,000. After a solid 2018 campaign that saw her win a third Grade 2 race, Starship Jubilee did not achieve her reserve when bidding stopped at $425,000 at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. This year has been her best season yet; the mare has not finished off the board in six starts, and the E. P. Taylor improves her overall record to 14 wins from 31 starts for earnings over $1.1 million.
“It being a mile and a quarter is always tough, but it being a Grade 1 and being in our backyard, that kind of helps soften the blow,” said Attard. “She was so convincing when she won her last start (the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes) and she came out of that race in great shape. She's worked really well in the interim and Luis gave her an incredible ride today. I've been fortunate to make some good claims in my career but… she's the pinnacle right now. This is my first Grade 1 win and I want to thank Adam and Bonnie of Blue Heaven Farm for buying her and allowing me to train her.”
It was sweet redemption for the Florida-bred Starship Jubilee, who finished fourth in last year's E.P. Taylor.
“Last time (in the Canadian), she relaxed really nice going 1 1/8-miles and today, (Kevin) told me if they want to give you the lead, take the lead, but she didn't need the lead to win this race,” offered Contreras. “This filly came out really well trained and she was amazing today. She always gives me something no matter what at the end and I just was so comfortable on the last turn. When I saw no one was coming close to us on the front end, I was just waiting for the stretch to make a run and she just exploded.”
The E.P. Taylor was the final leg of Woodbine's new Ladies of the Lawn Series, which offers $75,000 in bonuses to the top performers based on points accumulated in designated graded turf routes for fillies and mares.
The series also included the Grade 2 $175,000 Nassau Stakes (won by Secret Message), the Grade 2 $175,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (won by Holy Helena) and the Grade 2 $250,000 Canadian Stakes (won by Starship Jubilee).
Heading into today's race, Starship Jubilee (24 points), Holy Helena (13) and Secret Message (10) held the first three spots in the standings.
By virtue of her lead – the winner of each designated race receives 10 points – Starship Jubilee's connections are the recipients of the $50,000 first-place bonus. She topped all rivals with 34 points. Holy Helena's fifth-place finish in the E.P. Taylor secured second spot (15 points, $15,000 bonus), while Secret Message (11 points) earned her connections the $10,000 third-place bonus.
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