Jemison Beats the Boys in Career Debut Sunday at Laurel

April 10, 2022

4-Year-Old Filly is Half-Sister to G1 Winner Shedaresthedevil 

Thursday’s Return of Live Racing Features Start of Turf Season

LAUREL, MDJemison, a 4-year-old half-sister to three-time Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire Shedaresthedevil, made it look easy beating the boys in her career debut Sunday at Laurel Park.

Ridden by Jevian Toledo for trainer Brittany Russell, Jemison ($4.20) ran six furlongs in 1:10.95 over a fast main track to win the maiden special weight for horses 3, 4 and 5 years old by 7 ¼ lengths despite being fractious behind the gate and bobbling at the start.

“I’m delighted. It’s awesome,” Russell said. “She’s a racehorse, so now we just have to keep her together and keep her brain right.”

Owned by First Row Partners, Team Hanley, Parkland Thoroughbreds and Paul Braverman, Jemison drew outside each of five rivals and found herself pressing a pace of 23.30 and 46.76 seconds set by Heaven’s Got Fire, who had made 11 previous starts. Jemison drew even approaching the stretch, took a short lead once straightened for home, opened up through the lane and was hand-ridden to the wire.

“She was a project with tons of talent, so it’s pretty nice she ended up with us,” Russell said. “You can see, like in the gate she’s got some quirks about her. She’s big and she’s powerful so you have to be very careful with her. It’s been tricky. She’s been tricky. She’s been a project, but we knew the talent was there so that was why we continued.”

By Outwork out of the Congrats mare Starship Warpspeed, Jemison was purchased for $150,000 out of Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky select yearling sale in July 2019. She spent the spring of 2020 at Keeneland and early winter of 2020-2021 at Oaklawn Park before landing with Russell, working steadily since late November primarily at Laurel.

“I think she was always very forward in her early training as a 2-year-old and things like that. They knew she had talent,” Russell said. “She was probably so forward that she didn’t have a lot of work beside horses and things, so we kind of had to go back to the beginning and teach her how to run beside horses and things like that. But, on the other hand, she’s coming by here clocking 15s and it’s like, ‘How do you put her with horses?’ It’s just been a process, but we knew that was what we had.”

Russell hadn’t intended on starting Jemison against males, but finding a race and keeping her on a track she knew was important.

“We’ve entered her like 10 times,” Russell said. “We wanted to keep her home. The gate crew knows her, Toledo knows her, so the whole home aspect was the goal. We got it accomplished. I’m glad we did it.”

Russell said the connections had not looked beyond Sunday’s unveiling.

“Of course you want to dream big with her, but just getting this out of the way was such a huge relief. We’ll just see how she comes back and go from there.”

Thursday’s Return of Live Racing Features Start of Turf Season

Live racing returns to Laurel Park Thursday, April 14 with a nine-race program including the first two events of the year scheduled for its world-class turf course.

First race post time is 12:40 p.m.

Laurel’s turf underwent an aggressive maintenance plan that began last fall and resumed in late winter this year. The 142-foot wide course allows for six different layouts based on the position of the portable rail, each named for some of racing’s finest champions – All Along (hedge), Bowl Game (17 feet), Kelso (35 feet), Dahlia (52 feet), Exceller (70 feet) and Fort Marcy (87 feet).

Race 5 is a one-mile maiden special weight for horses 3, 4 and 5 years old scheduled for one mile on the Dahlia that attracted 13 horses including main-track-only entrant Serifos. Three horses – 3-year-old Animal Kingdom gelding Musical King, 3-year-old Union Rags gelding General’s Duty and 4-year-old Tapit gelding Hachure – have prior turf experience, with General’s Duty finishing second in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight last October at Laurel.

An overflow field of 12, including main-track-only entrant Hummin’ the Funk and also-eligible Kirtan, was entered in Race 7, a starter optional claimer for fillies and mares 3 and up scheduled for one mile on the All Along. Closertotheheart, Funwhileitlasted, Love My Cat, Evangeline Allons and Girl’s On Fire each have wins on turf, with Closertotheheart and Love My Cat’s coming over the local course. Evangeline Allons was third after setting the pace in Laurel’s 2021 Selima.

Thursday’s feature comes in Race 8, an optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the main track that drew eight horses including Laurel maiden winners Goldenize, Mocephus, Must Be Love and Hampton Lane.

Notes: Seven-pound apprentice Jeiron Barbosa, who won four races on Saturday’s card, earned his spring meet-leading ninth victory in Race 2 Sunday aboard Had the Notion ($5.20) … Jevian Toledo doubled with The Wolfman ($3.40) in Race 5 and Jemison ($4.20) in Race 6 … There will be a carryover of $3,621.09 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 Thursday. Multiple tickets with all six winners Sunday each returned $336.26.

Maryland Jockey Club

Photo: Jemison, (MJC)

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