What we learned: Starship Jubilee beat a questionable field

What we learned: Starship Jubilee beat a questionable field
Photo: Joe Labozzetta

Answering the question of talent vs. experience in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, the 7-year-old mare Starship Jubilee made use of experience to defeat males and win her second Grade 1 race and her first against males.

[RELATED: Click here for Woodbine Results.]

There are two notes to point out about Starship Jubilee’s big win in open Grade 1 company. First of all, she did well to overcome early traffic trouble and outkick the field in the stretch. But it also looks like she beat an average group for this level.

The trouble for Starship Jubilee came just after the opening quarter.

While racing between Shirl’s Speight and War of Will, she takes up briefly.

On the turn, though, Starship Jubilee finds room to tip outside of horses and take aim at the tired leader Admiralty Pier and War of Will. Understandably, Admiralty Pier calls it a day and fades after setting the pace. Starship Jubilee reaches the front before War of Will even passes Admiralty Pier, and she separates herself from War of Will.

Then, Starship Jubilee continues on strongly to the wire to prevail by a length over a closing March to the Arch, with War of Will desperately holding third over his long-shot stablemate Olympic Runner outside.

She did everything right to prevail. But there are some signs of a negative race.

For one, the finishing margins are compressed. Only 1 3/4 lengths came between the first four horses, while 6 1/4 lengths separated the eight horses in all. In a fast race, the field separates because the slower runners cannot keep up with the good ones, resulting in double-digit margins. Despite a lively pace, this field stuck together.

Also, how did the 58-1 Olympic Runner finish as close as he did to the leaders? While he ran second to local star Pink Lloyd in two local synthetic Grade 3 races recently, that is no justification to believe he is a Grade 1-quality horse. Three starts ago, he was a non-threatening fourth in the local Connaught Cup (G2) on turf, 5 1/2 lengths back.

On that note, the 53-1 Armistice Day ran fifth, only 3 1/4 lengths behind Starship Jubilee. In his prior start, he ran a no-excuse third in a local nine-furlong turf allowance, finishing behind Uncle Bull and Jungle Fighter. The latter horse was a disappointing ninth in the Singspiel Stakes (G3) earlier in the Woodbine Mile card.

Also, the first three speed horses faded after opening 23.66 and 46.14 fractions for the one-mile distance. Admiralty Pier fought longer in the stretch run before fading late, while Value Proposition and Shirl’s Speight gave up sooner. Were the early fractions that taxing?  

Earlier in the card, the early speed also gave way in a one-mile turf race for $15k claimers with similar opening fractions of 23.39 and 46.60, but those were claimers. Grade 1-level horses are supposed to handle more than what claimers can endure.

To circle back to Starship Jubilee, she ran well despite the questionable competition behind her. Out of this field, she is the only one to even consider as a viable Breeders’ Cup contender by handicappers, whether in the Mile or Filly & Mare Turf. Given Rushing Fall and Mean Mary beat her by four lengths in the Diana Stakes (G1), perhaps tackling males is the better decision for this ageless mare.   

March to the Arch and War of Will could not defeat a female horse that is arguably not even the best runner in her gender. Both of them are suspect going forward to the Breeders' Cup.

Shirl’s Speight faded to seventh in a disappointing effort after racing in the pocket. The lightly-raced 3-year-old had an inside opening in the stretch if he could run through it, but he did not. He is better off pointing towards 3-year-old restricted races on turf, if any remain.

Magic Attitude wins Belmont Oaks
in North America debut

Without a doubt, Woodbine has been a negative course for this blog’s picks.  

On the brighter side, Magic Attitude flashed her European class to capture the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) at even money in a five-horse field.

Watch how loaded Magic Attitude looks on the far turn.

She only needs to tip out, and then she mows down Antoinette easily.

While even money sounds low, in a short field full of American turf fillies those were fair odds on a filly who had faced the best fillies overseas in the Prix de Diane Longines (G1) and ran credibly late with a closing fifth-place finish in that race.

Surprisingly, bettors almost made Antoinette the favorite at 6-5, making the betting gap between them smaller than their difference in ability on paper.

In her prior start, Antoinette barely held off Stunning Sky in the Saratoga Oaks Invitational to mark her lone win of the year in five starts. Stunning Sky went on to finish a mild fourth in the Dueling Grounds Oaks at Kentucky Downs. Yet she was 6-5 against Magic Attitude.

Magic Attitude has a bright future in this country with trainer Arnaud Delacour. Can she contend with older turf fillies and mares? That is a question. But at this point, Magic Attitude is one of the best 3-year-old turf fillies.


Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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