June 23, 2024

Hard to Justify provides Brown a sixth Juvenile Fillies Turf

Hard to Justify wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

Hard to Justify courageously outfinished Porta Fortuna and She Feels Pretty to win Friday’s $920,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), remaining unbeaten from three starts and delivering Chad Brown a record-extending sixth victory in the race. Flavien Prat was up on the Wise Racing colorbearer.

“Good trip, she jumped well out of the gate,” Prat said. “I was able to sit right off the pace. She was all game.”

Overlooked at 9.10-1, Hard to Justify is by outstanding second-crop sire Justify, who produced his second consecutive winner on the card following Just F Y I’s success in the Juvenile Fillies (G1). Hard to Justify overcame a troubled trip to break her maiden the first time out going 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga in late July, and she raced close to the pace before capturing the Miss Grillo (G3) at Aqueduct on Oct. 4.

“She’s a very progressive horse who has proven she can overcome trouble,” Brown said. “She’s really very advanced for her age, mentally, and had that physical toughness to overcome a brutal trip in her first race, making a couple different runs during the race to get up. In her second race (Miss Grillo), she was forward and was always there for Flavien. He was excited to ride her here and liked her chances in the race.”

The bay filly broke running in the one-mile Juvenile Fillies Turf, pressing pacesetter Dreamfyre through fractions of :22.91, :47.65, and 1:11.16. Hard to Justify loomed prominently turning for home, but others were closing into the frame.

She faced a serious challenge from the two favorites, 7-2 Porta Fortuna to the inside and 3.80-1 She Feels Pretty on the outside, before forging her way to a short lead, eventually prevailing by a half-length.

“There was mild concern at the three-eighths marker when they started to stack up outside of her,” Brown said. “I thought maybe that (outside) post would do her in, but I knew she had some fight in her. It’s just a matter of when he wanted to use that last bit of energy that she would have. Sure enough, she had plenty; more than I thought.”

Porta Fortuna edged She Feels Pretty by a head for second, and it was another three-quarters of a length back to the late-running Content in fourth. Next came Austere, Buchu, Carla’s Way, Life’s an Audible, Dreamfyre, Laulne, Les Pavots, Flattery, Gala Brand, and Buttercream Babe.

Bred in Kentucky by Yeguada Centurion S.L., Hard to Justify brought the gavel down for $190,000 as a yearling at last year’s Keeneland September sale. She hails from the Grade 3-placed Instant Reflex, a daughter of Quality Road, and Hard to Justify appears to have a bright future for her connections on turf.

“She has a great heart,” owner Brian Wise said. “Her very first race she had a ton of trouble, and she pulled away. Then she just has a great heart.”