Had Juliet Foxtrot (GB) been a little less unlucky the past couple of seasons, her counterparts in the female turf division would likely find themselves having an easier time of things these days.
In her first four tries against Grade 1 company, the Juddmonte homebred had her team both encouraged and agonized by her near-miss efforts as she hit the top three – but not the primary spot – in each venture. Though her pedigree and graded stakes form could have earned her a date with any number of elite stallions, the desire to see Juliet Foxtrot get over the top-level hump was a major impetus in the decision to keep her in training for this her 6-year-old season.
When the daughter of Dansili (GB) captured the Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) in her 2021 debut at Keeneland on April 10, she validated the belief that she always belonged in the upper ranks. This weekend, the bay mare will aim to further assert herself as she looms the heavy favorite in the $150,000 Old Forester Mint Julep Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on June 12.
“She’s been placed with some great fillies and run some fantastic races. And when you run that well for so long, I just hated to retire her without winning the big one,” Juddmonte general manger Garrett O’Rourke said of Juliet Foxtrot after the Jenny Wiley. “It’s tremendous because we made a brave move to keep her in training for an extra year and I think the motivation for doing that was how close she had gotten to (a Grade 1 win).”
When Juliet Foxtrot did prevail by two lengths in the 1 1/16-miles Jenny Wiley, there was an added emotion to the post-race festivities as her win gave the Juddmonte operation its first Grade 1 triumph since the death of its founder, Prince Khalid bin Abdullah, in January. The Brad Cox-trained mare was slated to head to California for the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita Park on May 31 but she spiked a fever in the days leading up to her planned trip, according to O’Rourke.
Instead, she gets a chance to try and make amends for one of the few times she has been off the board since coming to North America in 2019. In last year’s edition of the Mint Julep, Juliet Foxtrot finished sixth – one of only two times she has finished worse than third in her last 12 starts – but was beaten just 1 ¾ lengths by race winner Secret Message. Churchill Downs was also the site of her fourth place run in last September’s Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (G2) but she does own a victory over the course, taking an allowance optional claiming test beneath the Twin Spires in May 2019.
Overall, Juliet Foxtrot has six wins from 20 starts – including victories in the 2019 Modesty Handicap (G3) and 2020 Gallorette Stakes (G3) – with earnings of $701,831.
Juliet Foxtrot was deemed the 123-pound highweight for the Mint Julep and will leave from post No. 2 with Tyler Gaffalione in the irons.
Other top horses that entered the Mint Julep are Robert and Lawana Low’s four-time stakes heroine She’sonthewarpath and Stonestreet Stables’ $150,000 Indiana Grand Stakes winner Hendy Woods.