Two years after sending Fluffy Socks out west to capture the 2020 Jimmy Durante Stakes (G3T), trainer Chad Brown added a second running of the race to his mammoth-sized resume with Alpha Delta Stables' Liguria.
Favored off her maiden win, a second-out victory during the Belmont at the Big A fall meet under jockey Flavien Prat, the filly scored in similar late-running fashion Dec. 3 at Del Mar, taking the $103,500 contest by a decisive 2 1/4 lengths. Although based with Chad Brown’s string in New York, Liguria’s fondness for the seaside turf should come as no surprise considering her half sister is the two-time grade 1 winner Avenge, victorious in the 2016 John C. Mabee Stakes (G2T) at Del Mar in the summer of her 4-year-old year. Though clearly Liguria is putting her talents of full display a little earlier in her career than her half sibling.
Prat, back in California for the winter after a spring-through-fall stint in New York, was eager to be back aboard the War Front filly in the Jimmy Durante.
“I really like the way she won at Aqueduct, and she ran well today,” Prat said. “I was a bit worried about the draw being way outside, but I got myself covered up, and she was traveling well, and she gave me a good kick.
“From her prior race, she showed a good turn of foot, so I was expecting her to make a big run when I tipped her out.”
Forced three-wide into the first turn, Prat settled Liguria in mid-pack several lengths off the pace while longshot Ami Please wheeled uncontested through a :22.52 first quarter and :47.33 half-mile. Roused with three furlongs left to run, Liguria surged by rivals around the bend and powered widest as the field turned for home. She continued to quicken, breezing past Ami Please to win convincingly.
Completing the mile in a time of 1:36.16 on a firm turf course, a thrilling blanket finish for second ensued behind Liguria ($4.80), with a fast-finishing Decorated My Life prevailing over Sell the Dream and Ami Please.
Bred by Tada Nobutaka in Kentucky, Liguria became the third stakes winner for the Woodman mare Lerici, who also producd two-time stakes winner and graded-stakes placed runner Lira. That mare, in turn, produced Lia Marina, who took last year's Wait a While Stakes on the turf at Gulfstream Park. Bloodstock agent Steve Young signed the ticket on Liguria for $250,000 as a yearling at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale from the Gainesway consignment.
Video: Jimmy Durante S. (G3T)
Turn On The Jets Rockets Home in Stormy Liberal
The appropriately named Turn On The Jets did just that earlier on the Saturday afternoon card when he burst through a narrow opening along the inside rail to land the $101,500 Stormy Liberal Stakes.
“It was a little hole,” jockey Juan Hernandez admitted after the victory. “But I took my chance because I trusted my horse. It was little but he came through pretty well and then opened up after that.”
Owned by Benowitz Family Trust, CYBT, Michael Nentwig, and Ray Pagano, the same partnership that won the San Clemente Stakes (G2T) earlier this summer with Irish import Bellabel, Turn On The Jets was acquired privately from Europe and joined trainer Phil D’Amato’s barn over the winter.
The 3-year-old son of Mehmas was victorious in his North American debut over five furlongs on the grass at Del Mar in August before turning in a runner-up and third-place effort against allowance optional claiming company when stretched out to slightly longer distances.
“We tried him 6 1/2 (furlongs) down the hill, and he ran well, but the last sixteenth was a little far for him,” Hernandez said. “He loves this (trip), the five furlongs on the turf. He’s getting better, but this is his best distance.”
Taken back off the leaders after breaking sharply, Turn On The Jets rated in fourth, a few lengths back from the dueling pacesetters, then got the jump on closers Whatmakessammyrun and Sumter—who finished second and third, respectively. The winner was timed in :55.75 on a firm course, returning $6.60 to win.
Turn On The Jets is the first stakes winner produced by his dam, the Dandy Man mare Chiclet. The mare delivered a full sibling to the Stormy Liberal winner this past breeding season.