It's been a good year for the ladies of racing. California starlet Zenyatta remains undefeated. Rachel Alexandra ran rampant all summer long capped by an historic win over older males in the Woodward. At Woodbine, the buzz has been all about the young diamond in the rough that is Careless Jewel.
Careless Jewel will be flying the flag for Canada at the Breeders' Cup
Although bred in Kentucky, Careless Jewel is owned by Canadians Vern and Donna Dubinsky, trained by the Canadian Josie Carroll and ridden by top Canadian jockey Rob Landry. "I knew she was special as soon as she came in," said Carroll. "I knew she could run. I didn't how far she could run, but I knew she could run."
The three year-old daughter of Tapit has not put a foot wrong since a loss in her first start at Keeneland. After breaking her maiden at Woodbine on May 9th, Careless Jewel followed up with an impressive upper-level allowance win going two turns on June 21st. Those victories were good enough to convince Carroll to enter her filly in the G2 Delaware Oaks on July 18th. Delaware Park would be become the scene of Careless Jewel's coming out party as the filly crushed the favoured Bon Jovi Girl while sprinting to a wire-to-wire 7 1/4-length romp over the Todd Pletcher-trained Malibu Prayer.
Josie Carroll and Mike Doyle talk shop by the rail
A change of surface from Woodbine polytrack to the Delaware dirt provided no ill effect as a 10-1 Careless Jewel cruised an unchallenged six furlongs in 1:10.96, opened up by five lengths in midstretch, before galloping out the mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.96, just half a second off the Stakes record.
In her next start, Careless Jewel would stretch out to a mile and a quarter in the G1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. Canada's Milwaukee Appeal was made the favourite in the event on the basis of a stellar trio of races in the Oaks, Queen's Plate and a heartbreaking loss in the Prince of Wales.
Careless Jewel has tried several distances on the trail to the Breeders' Cup
Known to be a bit of a handful on raceday, Careless Jewel unseated jockey Rob Landry in the paddock. "She was just feeling good, probably not used to the crowd," Landry said. After a bit of trouble getting out of the gate, Careless Jewel faced more adversity when checked entering the first turn nearly clipping heels with Be Fair. Undaunted, Landry managed to settle down the fractious filly and stalked Be Fair into the far turn before the jock asked his filly for her best.
Careless Jewel effortlessly disposed of Be Fair and then romped Rachelesque through the stretch going on to win the Alabama Stakes by some 11 lengths. Milwaukee Appeal rallied belatedly to finish second.
It is no coincidence that Landry got the call on Careless Jewel. The meticulous Carroll chose the Woodbine journeyman specifically for the frisky filly. "Landry ended up on her as we were preparing her at Palm Meadows over the winter," explained Carroll. "He came up breezing some horses for me with no expectations of riding those horses and he got along with her very well and that's really what got him the mount. I think Rob's confidence in her is really important." No doubt that confidence paid off in the Alabama Stakes.
The victory propelled Carroll and Careless Jewel onto the national radar. Suddenly there was a new filly in town and the web was buzzing in anticipation of a Beldame at Belmont that might feature the top trio of Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra and Careless Jewel.
Perhaps someday the Woodbine backstretch will feature Careless Jewel Cres.
Sadly, for racing fans, that race never came to fruition and Careless Jewel made her way to Philadelphia Park to contest the $7500,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion instead. Cutting back to a mile and sixteenth, Carroll provided Landry with instructions to race wide and avoid the notoriously slow Philly Park rail. A calmer Careless Jewel sprinted out of the gate from an inside position and easily assumed a lead well wide of the rail. Landry held the filly comfortably while racing unthreatened down the backstretch. Turning into the lane, Landry opened up a few lengths over would-be stalkers and was never bothered by a back-of-the-pack charge from Bon Jovi Girl. Careless Jewel captured the Cotillion by an easy three lengths stopping the clock in a time of 1:41.40.
Careless Jewel is now back at Woodbine preparing for a Breeders' Cup start in the Ladies Classic at Santa Anita. Carroll's challenge is to ready the improving filly for a new surface (Pro-Ride), a new distance (mile and an eighth) and older Graded-Stakes battle tested foes such as Zenyatta and Cocoa Beach. Carroll believes her tough filly is up for the task. "A lot of the good fillies I've been around have been a little tough," stated Carroll. "Maybe that toughness translates in the race."
Careless Jewel galloped a mile and a half on Sunday morning with exercise rider Moises
Winning a Breeders' Cup race is no easy task but Carroll and Landry have proven time and again at Woodbine that they have the ability to do the unexpected. Carroll became the first female trainer to win the Queen's Plate when Edenwold captured the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown in 2006. Landry, who won the 2004 Plate aboard Niigon, has an impressive resume that includes a win in the Atto Woodbine Mile piloting Quiet Resolve.
While Carroll watched the white filly gallop over the Woodbine polytrack this past weekend, the veteran conditioner refused to speculate on her chances in the Ladies Classic, before musing wryly, "If we didn't think she was going with a shot there would be no reason to go."
Back in May, Woodbine fans delighted in cheering Mine That Bird to a Kentucky Derby win. Perhaps yet another three-year-old that broke their maiden at Woodbine will give the locals a reason to raise the roof come November 6th in the Ladies Classic.
I had a chance to speak with Rob Landry over the weekend at Woodbine about the special filly he hopes will bring Breeders' Cup glory.
TDH: Are you tired of talking about Careless Jewel yet?
RL: I never get tired of talking about a filly like that. She's just tremendous. Hopefully we can get one more.
TDH: After seeing Jewel in her stall this morning, I was surprised at how compact she is.
RL: She has an amazing stride. Just a huge stride and she covers a lot of ground with little effort and that's why she runs so fast. She's a very athletic filly. I can't complain. She's five for five with me.
Sandy Hawley could certainly offer Rob Landry some advice on how to win in California
TDH: So much has happened for this horse in a short period of time.
RL: Josie has done a tremendous job with her. She's a bit of a handful and Josie's done a great job to bring her to those races the way she has. Josie has done a great job keeping her peaking and trying to harness her speed because she's such a fast horse.
TDH: I spoke to Josie Carroll this morning and she believes your confidence in Careless Jewel is a big asset with such a temperamental filly.
RL: Horses are a lot like kids. They're not going to behave every day and you have to have patience. You discipline when you need to discipline them but you don't over discipline so that they're sour and unhappy. It's great that Josie has confidence in me but i give credit to Josie. She's done a great job with Jewel.
TDH: Would you consider the win in the Alabama Stakes your biggest victory?
RL: Maybe not purse wise. I've won the Atto Mile (now the Woodbine Mile) and the Queen's Plate but to win a race at Saratoga was the ultimate. I love to win and it's nice when you get a good horse that they they can keep on performing well.
An alert Careless Jewel will be looking for the camera in the Ladies Classic
TDH: What would be your ideal trip in the Ladies Classic.
RL: I'd have to see what type of horses enter and the Form on other horses and adjust from there. She has a lot of natural speed and she's going to have a forward position regardless but if there's some horse in there that goes crazy on the front end, I can sit off if we have to. She sat off the speed horse (Be Fair) in the Alabama.
TDH: You've had previous Breeders Cup experience.
RL: I rode the Breeders Cup Classic when 911 happened. I rode A Fleets Dancer. The Breeders' Cup is just great atmosphere and a great day of racing and I'm glad to be a part of it with a really good chance.
It's been an exciting season for fans of Woodbine racing and Careless Jewel will be one of several local contenders on Breeders' Cup Day. As the big weekend approaches, this blog will try to shed some light on other hopefuls such as Fatal Bullet.
Josie Carroll's Jewel is ready for her closeup