Being a full sibling to a multiple grade-1 winning champion comes with big expectations—and Stonestreet homebred Julia Shining has yet to disappoint.
Coming from off the pace Dec. 3 at Aqueduct Racetrack, the 2-year-old daughter of Curlin fought through the sloppy main track to take the $250,000 Demoiselle Stakes (G2) two years after her older sister Malathaat did the same, making the two the second pair of full siblings to win the same race since the early 1900s.
With a slight stumble leaving the gate in the 1 1/8-mile test for juvenile fillies, the Todd Pletcher trainee stayed toward the back of the pack in sixth with Tribal Queen and Royal Spa in first and second place, respectively, through early fractions of :24.61 and :49.35. As the seven-horse field made its way to the final turn, Luis Saez urged Julia Shining forward but did not get much of a response as the filly continued to struggle with the wet surface and remained nearly second-to-last after three-quarters in 1:14.31.
Once in the stretch, it was now or never for Julia Shining, who began to kick into gear down the middle of the track. After a mile in 1:40.13, she had moved to a neck-and-neck battle for the lead with Affirmative Lady. In the final strides Julia Shining surged a neck ahead to win the 1 1/8 mile event in 1:53.05.
"She was clearly not handling things (down the backstretch), and Luis was trying to encourage her to improve position and finally did it around the quarter pole," Pletcher said. "Once she found a rhythm down the lane, she started to close, and Luis said she kind of got her head in front and then wanted to wait a little bit."
As the heavy favorite, Julia Shining paid $3.10 on a $2 win ticket. She is 2-for-2 with $194,075 in the bank.
The filly debuted at Keeneland in an Oct. 16 maiden special weight race, where she impressed with a last-to-first move to finish 2 3/4 lengths ahead of her competition. With two closing efforts, the filly's running style seems to mirror that of Malathaat's.
The recently retired Malathaat took the Nov. 5 Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) at Keeneland to close her career on an auspicious note. As a 3-year-old, Shadwell-owned filly won the 2021 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) for Pletcher at Churchill Downs.
The Demoiselle served as a Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifying race, providing points on a 10-4-3-2-1 scale to the race's top five finishers.
"Clearly she has tons of natural talent and is still putting it all together," Pletcher said of Julia Shining. "We knew from her debut that she didn't like the kickback, and you add the sloppy track into that today, so that was our biggest concern was trying to get her into the clear.
"Unfortunately, the only way to get her into the clear was to go pretty wide, but she's got so much natural stamina that we felt the mile and an eighth was really going to play to her strengths."
Stonestreet also took the Remsen Stakes (G2) Saturday, co-owning the winner, the Danny Gargan-trained Dubyuhnell, with West Paces Racing.