May 23, 2024

Aunt Pearl impresses in record-setting Jessamine romp

Aunt Pearl
Aunt Pearl wins the Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland (Coady Photography)

Aunt Pearl posted a dominant front-running victory in Wednesday’s $150,000 Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland to establish herself as a serious contender for the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). An Irish-bred filly by Lope de Vega, Aunt Pearl smashed the stakes record by more than a second completing the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:40.86.

Florent Geroux was up on the Brad Cox trainee, who earned an expenses-paid berth to the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland in the “Win & You’re In” event, and the winner is campaigned by Michael Dubb, Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables, Peter Deutsch, Michael Kisber, and Stuart Grant’s The Elkstone Group.

Aunt Pearl was favored at 3-2 odds following a splendid five-length victory in her first start, a one-mile turf maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on Sept. 1.

“(After her career debut), we were hoping (she was this good),” Cox said. “She showed us a lot of talent in the mornings. I told someone after (her wire-to-wire debut win) that that’s the first time we ever cut her loose. She’s very gifted.”

The bay filly sped away to a clear lead from the starting gate, establishing a quick opening quarter-mile in :22.28. She always appeared comfortable while unopposed on the lead, reaching the half-mile in :46.65 as Navratilova and Spanish Loveaffair began to edge closer approaching the far turn.

Aunt Pearl widened her advantage rounding the final bend and entered the stretch up by about three lengths. She rolled to the wire as much the best, scoring by a 2 1/2-length margin.

“She’s got a lot of natural speed – :46 and change, carrying speed two turns like that in the second start of her career – she’s obviously very special,” Cox said. “It was a big effort.”

“I was going faster than I thought,” Geroux added. “Looking at the fractions, I was ‘Wow.’ I thought they would be much slower than that. She has short legs, but they move very fast for sure. I’m very impressed with her.”

Spanish Loveaffair tried to catch the winner in midstretch, but proved no match late while holding for second as the 1.70-1 second choice. It was 2 3/4 lengths back to the 5-1 third choice Ingrassia in third.

Arm Candy, Batyah, Navratilova, Taylor’s Tourist, Momentous Miss, Beautiful Star, Gambling Cat, and Lazy Summer Day completed the order of finish.

Bred by Ecurie Des Charmes and Ballylinch Stud, Aunt Pearl was purchased by her connections for $360,400 at last year’s Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in France.

She is out Scandinavia champion Matuauri Pearl, a daughter of Hurricane Run and a full sister to US. Grade 3 winner and multiple Grade 1 runner-up Wekeela. This is the immediate female family of multiple Group 1 German victor and sire Monsun.