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Justwhistledixie Seeks Turnaround in Distaff

Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Handicap pits 4-year-old Justwhistledixie, who is trying to regain the winning touch she had early in her sophomore season, against fillies and mares who are seeking their first victory at the graded stakes level.

 

An easy winner of the Grade 2 Davona Dale and Grade 2 Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream Park in the winter of 2009, Justwhistledixie closed her 3-year-old campaign with runner-up efforts in June’s Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont Park and November’s Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap here at Aqueduct. The Bill Mott trainee has raced twice this year, finishing fourth in both the Grade 2 El Encino over Santa Anita’s synthetic main track on January 17 and the Grade 3 Sabin back on conventional dirt at Gulfstream on February 27.

 

“She’s been a bit of a bit disappointment, but Bill has been happy with the way she has been working recently,” said Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds, who owns Justwhistledixie in partnership with Lakland Farm. “We hope the change in scenery - going from Florida to New York - helps.”

 

Finley is encouraged by Justwhistledixie’s second-place finish behind Godolphin’s Sara Louise over this surface in the 2009 Top Flight.

 

“You try to do everything you can to put them in a spot where they have already proven themselves,” said Finley.

 

In Saturday’s seven-furlong event, Justwhistledixie will be reunited with jockey Jose Lezcano, who guided the daughter of Dixie Union in the Top Flight. Assigned highweight of 119 pounds, the dark bay will break from the outside post.

 

Hour Glass, a 4-year-old from the Todd Pletcher barn, enters this spot off a smart 1 ½-length victory in the restricted Wheel Turns over the inner track on March 21. Two starts back, she was denied by just a half-length when fourth as part of a six-horse blanket finish in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park on February 15.

 

“We were compromised by the pace in the Fritchie and by a speed-favoring track,” said Pletcher’s assistant, Jonathan Thomas. “They set two track records that day. If they ran that race a few more times, we would have won a time or two.”

 

Owned by Mill House, Hour Glass has been taking it easy since capturing the Wheel Turns.

 

“It was by design,” said Thomas of the decision to keep the 4-year-old off the worktab. “She’s certainly a fit filly as she has been racing all winter.”

 

If needed, Hour Glass can show early zip from post No. 4 under regular rider David Cohen and 116 pounds.

 

“She could be more tactical if she needs to be,” said Thomas. “We just think she’s best stalking the pace and coming with one run.”

 

Tar Heel Mom, conditioned by Stanley Hough, could improve her record over the Aqueduct main track to three wins from four starts. A four-length victress of the In Her Glory at the Big A in November, the 5-year-old has placed in graded stakes in her last three starts, including a second to Warbling in the Grade 2 Inside Information at Gulfstream on March 14 last time out. Leading rider Ramon Dominguez has the mount aboard Tar Heel Mom, who has been given a 117-pound impost and will leave from post No. 3 as the 2-1 morning-line favorite.

 

Peachtree Stable’s Matchless Orinda, heroine of the What a Summer at Belmont last June, also ships in from Florida for the Distaff. Trained by Marty Wolfson and ridden by John Velazquez, the 5-year-old cuts back in distance after leading in the stretch and giving way late to finish second in the one-mile Sabin. The chestnut will break from post No. 5 and has been assigned 116 pounds

 

Completing the field Strut the Canary and Thunders Dove, who drew posts No. 1 and 2, respectively. Strut the Canary invades from Laurel Park off a victory in a Philadelphia Park optional claimer on March 21, while Thunders Dove ships in from Palm Meadows after finishing third in the Inside Information. 

 

The field for the 56th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Handicap:

 

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

 1

 Strut the Canary (KY)

 M Franklin

 114

 T J Tullock, Jr.

 15-1

 2

 Thunders Dove (KY)

 C H Velasquez

 115

 N P Zito

 8-1

 3

 Tar Heel Mom (KY)

 R A Dominguez

 117

 S M Hough

 2-1

 4

 Hour Glass (KY)

 D Cohen

 116

 T A Pletcher

 5-2

 5

 Matchless Orinda (KY)

 J R Velazquez

 116

 M D Wolfson

 3-1

 6

 Justwhistledixie (KY)

 J Lezcano

 119

 W I Mott

 4-1

 

 

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Older Comments about Justwhistledixie Seeks Turnaround in Distaff...

Cigar, I agree. Outside of Rachel Alexandra in 2009, Stardom Bound and Justwhistledixie were the only two other fillies that looked to really show very much promise. A very disappointing run in the Distaff for Justwhistledixie. With Stardom Bound now retired, and Justwhistedixie not as of yet having show anywhere near the form she displayed early in her 3yr.old season, make's wonder if Rachel Alexandra will be able to move forward and maintain anywhere near her 2009 form having raced such a grueling campaign?
She needs to move-up quite a bit... last year's 3YOF, outside of Rachel, have not translated their form yet.
I'm a big fan of Justwhistledixie. I think that she's still a high quality filly that really just needs to get herself back in the winner's circle to restore the kind of confidence that she had leading up to the Kentucky Oaks in 2009. I was really disappointed that she had to scratch out of the Oaks in 09'. I'm not sure she could've beaten Rachel Alexandra on that day. As I still think, to date, that the Oaks is Rachel's most impressive lifetime performance. But if there was any filly in the race who may have challenged Rachel, certainly, given the roll she was on leading up to the Oaks, Justwhistedixie may have been that filly. She has struggled a bit since her comeback from injury. But, unlike Stardom Bound, I don't get the feeling that it's anywhere close to time for Justwhistledixie to be retired. Stardom Bound, however, I do feel is a filly who's late 2yr.old, and early 3yr.old campaign's have obviously taken too much out of her, and I really do feel that retirement to brood mare is the best option for her at this point. But Justwhistledixie still very much show's sign's of life. Like a filly that's determined to find her way back to the winner's circle again. I really believe once she accomplishes that, and regains some confidence, that may propel her back to her form that she found as a 2 and 3yr.old. TJMO.

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