ELMONT, N.Y. – Starlight Racing and Glen Hill Farm’s graded-stakes winner Jouster pounced to a three-quarter length score in Sunday’s $100,000 Perfect Sting, a one-mile Widener turf test for older fillies and mares at Belmont Park.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, who swept Saturday’s stakes with Life Is Good in the Grade 2 John A. Nerud and Charge It in the Grade 3 Dwyer, the 4-year-old Noble Mission bay continued a remarkable two-day run for the Hall of Fame conditioner, who has saddled seven winners over the past two cards at Belmont.
Cheermeister, who broke through the gate and was re-loaded, was away alertly under Trevor McCarthy and marked off splits of 23.56 seconds and 46.27 over the firm going with Giggle Factory stalking in second position and Jouster a ground-saving third under Luis Saez.
Jouster angled off the rail and into the clear through the turn with even-money favorite Love And Thunder, who was squeezed at the start, swooping rivals from the back of the pack. Jouster overtook a stubborn Cheermeister at the eighth-pole and powered clear, stopping the clock in 1:32.96. Cheermeister, who returned from a near two-year layoff, stayed on strong to complete the exacta by a half-length over Love And Thunder. Messidor, Flower Point and Giggle Factory completed the order of finish.
Jouster won 3-of-6 starts last year all in gate-to-wire fashion, including the Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland. She entered Sunday’s test from a closing third in the six-furlong Grade 3 Intercontinental on June 10 at Belmont, finishing one length in arrears of the victorious Caravel.
Pletcher said he was pleased to see Jouster settle into a more patient approach.
“As she’s matured and gotten older, she’s chilled out a little bit,” Pletcher said. “She’s always had talent, and always had speed. We’re getting her to produce it at the right time.”
Saez said his main concern was Love And Thunder.
“I was pretty confident. I was a little worried about the favorite because I know she was tracking us. But she did great and she made her move and kept going,” Saez said. “She never stopped. I was pretty impressed with how she came back. Today, she had a clean trip and I know her style was to go to the lead all the time, but I’m pretty happy that she’s learning how to settle from behind and she did that today nicely. When I asked her, she gave me that kick. It was amazing.”
Cheermeister, who was last seen finishing seventh in the Grade 2 San Clemente in July 2020 at Del Mar, made a stellar return for conditioner Arnaud Delacour off a string of works at Fair Hill Training Center.
The 5-year-old multiple graded-stakes winning daughter of Bodemeister won the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant and Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park as a sophomore in the care of trainer Armando De La Cerda.
It was an eventful return for Cheermeister, who stopped for an equipment adjustment in the tunnel en route to the track before breaking through the gate.
“She ran well. The bit came undone [on the horse path] and she got kind of freezed up behind the gate,” McCarthy. “She got real hot and then when she got in the gate she busted through the doors. That’s the kiss of death usually. For her to run as big as she did [was impressive]. She galloped out well.
“She’s very fast,” he added. “The track is super-fast and she has a high cruising speed, so I just tried to find a happy medium. I knew I was going a little quick, but with the way the track was and the way she was going comfortable in the bridle, I didn’t want to take too much away from her.”
Bred in Kentucky by St. Elias Stables, Jouster banked $55,000 in victory while improving her record to 12-4-2-1. She returned $7.30 for a $2 win bet.
Live racing resumes Monday at Belmont Park with a 10-race card headlined by the $100,000 Manila in Race 9. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.
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By Keith McCalmont