STICKNEY, IL — Horse racing offers few more striking sights than two grey horses battling down the lane. Friday evening at Hawthorne, racegoers got even more than that: two greys, both seasoned stakes mainstays, dueling stride for stride, virtually gate to wire. At the wire only a neck separated the pair, with 7/10 favorite Jean Elizabeth crossing the wire in front, just outside of Puntsville.
Puntsville shot out of the gate sharpest of all, and rider Carlos Marquez encouraged her to assume her favorite spot up front. Jean Elizabeth, away midfield, responded when rider Jareth Loveberry nudged her for position; by the five-furlong mark, they were head-and-head. Meeka, away a bit slowly but soon in range, tracked in the second flight with Sister Ruler between and W W Fitzy three wide; Dandy Gal Settled in the rear.
Past the half, the pair of greys opened up on the rest of the field, embroiled in their own ghostly match race. Meeka stalked in third, lying in wait, ready to strike if the leaders began to tire.
Down the lane, Jean Elizabeth and Puntsville kept finding. Loveberry and Marquez implored their horses for their best. They responded, remaining head-and-head. Jockey Edgar Perez switched Meeka out three wide for a run on the battling pair, and Meeka gained late, but Jean Elizabeth and Puntsville fought on the whole six furlongs. It was only in the final strides that Jean Elizabeth edged to a neck advantage over Puntsville, the longest lead she had all race.
Meeka crossed the wire third, a length behind Puntsville, and three and three quarters lengths clear of the chasing W W Fitzy. Dandy Gal and Sister Ruler completed the order of finish. Goddess of Kip was a trainer’s scratch.
Jean Elizabeth is a four-year-old filly by Adios Charlie out of the Lit de Justice mare Rooney Doodle. She was bred in Illinois by Larry Rivelli and Richard Ravin; her dam, Rooney Doodle, has been the kind of mare any breeder would be lucky to have. Her six foals, all winners, have won a combined 44 times. Though Jean Elizabeth’s win in the Ontario Fashion Stakes (G3) at Woodbine on October 19 makes her the only graded stakes winner out of Rooney Doodle, her immediate family is rife with stakes performers. Her son What’s Up Dude (First Dude) is graded stakes placed by virtue of running second in the Hanshin Cup (G3) this year; he is entered to run Saturday in the Lightning Jet Handicap. Her son Dugout (Adios Charlie), a full sister to Jean Elizabeth, is a two-time New York-bred stakes winner last year, and her daughter Hollarforadollar (Bring the Heat) was second in the 2015 Pretty Jenny Stakes at Hawthorne.
Jean Elizabeth is owned by her breeders as well as Patricia’s Hope LLC of Vince Foglia. Trained throughout her career by Larry Rivelli, Jean Elizabeth has won ten of her sixteen career starts, five of them in stakes company. A paragon of consistency, she has never finished worse than third. The $32,355 winners’ share of the purse brought Jean Elizabeth’s career earnings to $382,558.
Jean Elizabeth paid $3.40 to win. The $1 exacta over Puntsville (5-2) returned $5.70. A trifecta with Meeka in third (5-2-1) came back with $10.35 for each $0.50. The $0.20 superfecta with W W Fitzy fourth (5-2-1-7) paid $9.82.
Jockey Jareth Loveberry was riding Jean Elizabeth for the first time in a race, though he had gotten to know her in the mornings. Things went mostly according to plan in the race. “She kind of stumbled just a little bit at the start; the ground broke from under her. But, she has so much speed, and broke nice and sharp, and it was just a horse race, a battle between those two tough horses. It was a nice, tough race.”
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