Fairytale mare is out to do it again

Starship Jubilee winning the Sunshine Millions Filly Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park last month. Photo: Ryan Thompson

Starship Jubilee will seek to add another heartwarming chapter to her claimer-turned-G1-winner fairytale on Saturday, when Blue Heaven Farm’s 7-year-old mare returns to action in the $150,000 G3 Suwanee River at Gulfstream Park.

Claimed for $16,000 at Gulfstream in February 2017, Starship Jubilee has gone on to win eight stakes, including five Graded stakes, and more than $1 million in purses.

The Florida-bred daughter of Indy Wind, who has won nine of her 17 starts over the Gulfstream turf course, joined some elite fillies and mares when she captured the $600,000 G1 EP Taylor at Woodbine in October.

“There have been some great mares who have won it who have gone on to become great broodmares. If you look at the number of Canadian-based trainers who have won it, it’s a very short list. It goes to show you how hard it is for a locally based horse to win that race,” trainer Kevin Attard said.

“I always had a little concern about her going a mile and a quarter. I think it’s a little bit beyond her best [distance]. She had a great ride that day by [Luis] Contreras. It was just a pleasure watching her run down the long EP Taylor course we have at Woodbine and see her hold on and win the race.”

Starship Jubilee is a Sovereign Award finalist in the female turf category, while Attard is a finalist for the Sovereign Award as Canada’s top trainer. 

Starship Jubilee enters the Suwanee River, a nine-furlong turf stakes for older fillies and mares, off a seemingly effortless three-length victory on January 18 at Gulfstream, winning the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf for the third year in a row.

“When you look at her, she’s not a big filly. You wouldn’t know that by her attitude on the racetrack. Where she started and where she is today – capped off with the EP Taylor, which is not an easy race to win – it’s been quite the ride,” Attard said. “There was talk of her retiring, but you say to yourself, ‘How do you replace a horse like this?’” They don’t come by often. She’s done right by us, so when the time comes when she doesn’t want to do it anymore, she will be retired.”

Starship Jubilee followed up her EP Taylor score with a second-place finish in the November 28 G3 Cardinal over a yielding turf at Churchill Downs, where she rallied from seventh to take the lead in mid-stretch, only to come up short and finish second.

“You could tell she wasn’t liking the turf, but she still gave it all she had and tried her best. She was just second best that day,” Attard said.

Back on familiar turf at Gulfstream, Starship Jubilee exerted her class over her Florida-bred rivals in the Sunshine Millions without having to be extended. “She came out of it great. She’s been training well in the interim. It was a pretty easy race for her, so it didn’t seem like it took much out of her,” Attard said.

Luis Saez is named to ride Starship Jubilee, replacing Javier Castellano.

Chad Brown will be represented by two turf runners in the Suwanee River – Magic Star, who captured the January 11 G3 Marshua’s River at Gulfstream, and Tapit Today, who is coming off a December 28 optional claiming allowance win at Tampa Bay Downs.

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