Marilyn Braly’s Evening Jewel, who has knocked heads with racing’s elite fillies, takes a sizable drop in class while taking on eight Cal-bred and Florida-bred older fillies in the Sunshine Millions Distaff. The Distaff is one of three Sunshine Millions races to be run over the new dirt surface at Santa Anita Park Jan. 25 and the $300,000 purse is a sizable chunk of change for distaffers who usually don’t run for this amount of money except in grade I competition.
And Evening Jewel has plenty of experience against grade I company. A finalist for champion 3-year-old filly for a 2010 Eclipse Award, Evening Jewel won a pair of grade Is last year and was second, beaten a nose, in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. Prior to the Oaks she won Keeneland’s Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I) and during the summer landed the nine-furlong Del Mark Oaks (gr. IT).
Trainer James Cassidy cut her back to a sprint to cap off her season and she ran a respectable third in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I). Returned to California, she ran an even fifth in her 2011 debut Jan. 2 in the Monrovia Stakes (gr. IIIT) while trying the down-the-hill turf course at 6 1/2 furlongs for the first time.
A daughter of Northern Afleet, out of the Giant's Causeway mare Jewel of the Night, Evening Jewel was bred in California by Betty and Larry Mabee. In all, she’s racked up a 6-5-2 slate from 15 starts and has earned just over $1 million.