Starship Jubilee Opens Season with Sunshine Millions Title Defense
Jan 16, 2019
Multiple G2 Winner Heads Field of 13 in $150,000 Filly & Mare Turf
Four Florida-Bred Stakes Worth $600,000 in Purses Saturday, Jan. 19
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– At this time last year, multiple Grade 2 winner Starship Jubilee had just been beaten as the favorite in the Claiming Crown Tiara in her season finale before opening a new campaign by winning the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf.
Trainer Kevin Attard is hoping to follow a similar blueprint this weekend when he sends out Blue Heaven Farm’s Starship Jubilee to defend her title against 12 rivals in Saturday’s $150,000 Filly & Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park.
The 16th running of the 1 1/16-mile Filly & Mare Turf for females 4 and older is among four Florida-bred stakes worth $600,000 in purses on a 12-race Sunshine Millions Day program highlighted by the $200,000 Classic. First race post time is 11:45 a.m.
This will be Starship Jubilee’s second start for Bonnie Baskin’s Blue Heaven Farm, which purchased the 6-year-old mare privately after she failed to meet her reserve on opening day of Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale.
Starship Jubilee set a pressured pace from Post 1 in the Dec. 1 Tiara, also at 1 1/16 miles, before weakening to be fourth, beaten 3 ¼ lengths. It was just the fifth time in 15 starts at Gulfstream where she finished worse than third, a record that includes seven wins.
“She had a tough post last time and kind of jumped something it looked like over the turf course into the first turn there. It wasn’t an ideal trip, but she didn’t disgrace herself,” Attard said. “Her going through the sale and missing some training because of that might have hindered her a little bit, as well.”
In preparation for her 2019 debut, Starship Jubilee has had four works since the Tiara, the most recent a half-mile breeze in 46.78 seconds over the main track Jan. 12 – second-fastest of 108 horses. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano is named to ride from outside Post 13 at topweight of 123 pounds.
“She’s trained really well and she’s coming into this race in good order,” Attard said. “She had a good blowout the other day in 46 and change and has continued to kind of progress since that [last] race.”
Starship Jubilee had run for Attard and Soli Mehta since being claimed for $16,000 by Attard’s father, Tino, in February 2017 at Gulfstream. She won her first five starts following the claim, including the Nassau (G2) and Dance Smartly (G2) at Woodbine, and earned the Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion turf female. She has earned $566,458 from 25 career starts, the last 16 of them under Attard’s care.
“She lays it down each and every time. She gives it her best and I could never ask for any more from her,” Attard said. “She’s been real good to us and I’m hoping she’s going to reward the new owners this weekend.”
Among her rivals are a trio of horses each from trainers Todd Pletcher and David Fawkes. Pletcher entered Picara and Shanghai Starlet – both coming off stakes victories at Gulfstream Park West – and Treasure for Gold, seeking her first win in stakes company.
P&G Stables’ Picara exits back-to-back victories during the Fall Turf Festival meet, including a front-running 1 ¾-length triumph in the 7 ½-furlong Filly & Mare Turf Preview Nov. 10 last time out. She is winless in five tries over Gulfstream’s turf course, all five-furlong sprints.
“It seems like since we stretched her out, that seems to be to her liking,” Pletcher said. “Her last start was very good and she’s been training really well so we’re looking forward to trying again. She’s never run over this course but she’s been a nice, consistent filly every time.”
King of Prussia Stable’s Shanghai Starlet came from just off the pace to win the seven-furlong Sunshine Millions Distaff on dirt on the same card, topping a field that included second- and third-place finishers Southern Sis and Warranty, each of whom return Saturday. Shanghai Starlet owns three wins at Gulfstream, including the off-the-turf Panama City Stakes Aug. 11, and was fourth by 2 ¼ lengths in the Miss Gracie Stakes Sept. 15 in her lone grass race.
“I think she’s actually a little better on the dirt. Her one turf try was decent,” Pletcher said. “There’s not a whole lot of Florida-bred options at the moment so we’re going to try her on the grass one more time. She seems versatile enough and I thought her last race was very good; hopefully she’ll step up again.”
Robyn Thompson’s Treasure for Gold was sixth in both the 7 ½-furlong Miss Gracie and one-mile Cellars Shiraz Stakes to cap 2018, snapping a three-race win streak over the Gulfstream turf. She is four-for-eight on the local course, also running third in the Melody of Colors Stakes last February.
“We’ve been pointing for this for a while with her,” Pletcher said. “She seems to like the course here and being back in Florida-bred company should suit her well. I think she’s best just kind of mid-pack where she can get a little bit of cover and make a run.”
Fawkes will send out multiple stakes winner Florida Fuego, third in the Miss Gracie and Cellars Shiraz, her only two tries on turf; and stakes winners Surprise Wedding, most recently sixth in the Sugar Swirl (G3) Dec. 15 at Gulfstream; and Madame Uno, unraced since finishing third in Gulfstream’s Ginger Punch Stakes last June.
Ginger Punch winner Bitacora, Mrs. Ramona G., Thinkin Cowtown and Weekend Mischief complete the field.