Thursday, May 3, 2012

Don't dismiss Kentucky Oaks contender Jemima's Pearl

Jemima's Pearl (front) works with Bodemeister at Churchill  4/29/2012
Photo:  Reed Palmer Phography, Churchill Downs

Unlike most of her rivals in the Kentucky Oaks, longshot Jemima’s Pearl has never won a stakes race, but based on her running style, and the fact that she’s held her own against her workmate, Derby favorite Bodemeister, the daughter of Distorted Humor shouldn’t be dismissed. 

A $100,000 Keeneland September yearling, Jemima’s Pearl began her two-year-old career in Ireland, where she broke her maiden at seven furlongs in her fourth career start at Dundalk, defeating Homecoming Queen, who went on to win a listed stakes last year and was the recent upset winner of the Leopardstown 1000 Guineas Trial-G3 for trainer Aidan O’Brien.

Repatriated to the U.S. this year, Jemima’s Pearl captured a mile and a sixteenth allowance test at Santa Anita in March, in her first effort on American soil, under the tutelage of conditioner Simon Callaghan.  Switched to the barn of trainer Bob Baffert, the filly ran a creditable third to Mamma Kimbo and Oaks contender Amie’s Dini in the Grade II Fantasy at Oaklawn Park

But it wasn’t until she shipped to Churchill Downs to prepare for the Oaks that people began to take notice.  She breezed side-by-side with the powerful Bodemeister on two occasions, and barely batted an eye.  Jemima’s Pearl may have been overlooked by the pundits, but she was making quite an impression among railbirds.

She’ll get her chance to prove herself among members of her own sex in the prestigious Grade I Oaks, where, in a field of fillies brimming with speed, the race may set up for Jemima’s Pearl to unleash her trademark late surge.  Her style is reminiscent of her dam, the British-bred Jemima, a closer who excelled on the turf, notching the Peugeot Lowther Stakes-G2 in England and placing in stakes company in the U.S. 

As a daughter of classic sire Distorted Humor, Jemima’s Pearl’s ability to get Oaks’ nine furlongs shouldn’t be in question.  In spite of the fact that he never won beyond a mile, Distorted Humor has been a consistent progenitor of high-class stamina, siring classic winners Funny Cide (Kentucky Derby) and Drosselmeyer (Belmont) as well as mile-and-a-quarter winners Flower Alley (Travers), and Regal Ransom (U.A.E. Derby).

Interestingly, Jemima’s Pearl has what Pedigree Consultants’ Alan Porter and Byron Rogers term a “Reverse Parallel Pattern” pedigree, in that Distorted Humor is by a Mr. Prospector-line sire (Forty Niner) out of a Danzig mare (Danzigs Beauty), while Jemima is by a Danzig-line sire (Green Desert’s son, Owington) out of a mare by Mr. Prospector’s son, Damister.  

Whatever happens in the Oaks, Jemima’s Pearl seems amply credentialed for success.

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