Julia Shining shines bright in the G2 Demoiselle (Susie Raisher)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher could take a familiar trail to the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks with Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Julia Shining, who earned 10 qualifying points toward the prestigious event with a late-rallying win in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle at Aqueduct Racetrack.
There were some anxious moments during the nine-furlong test for 2-year-old fillies, but Julia Shining’s class prevailed in the end as she made a seven-wide move in the stretch under Luis Saez, coming from well off the pace to win her stakes debut by a neck over maiden Affirmative Lady. The victory, which earned a 70 Beyer Speed Figure, was reminiscent of her Champion full-sister Malathaat, who won the 2020 Demoiselle in similar fashion. Both Julia Shining and Malathaat are by Curlin and out of Grade 1-winner Dreaming of Julia.
“There are some similarities for sure. Luis commented that she idled a little bit when she put her head in front. That was a characteristic that Malathaat had as well,” Pletcher said.
Julia Shining is scheduled to ship to Pletcher’s primary winter division at Palm Beach Downs in South Florida on Monday. While no plans have been confirmed for her next start, Pletcher said he is considering the $150,000 Suncoast on February 11 at Tampa Bay Downs [20-8-6-4-2 qualifying points] and the Grade 1 Ashland in April at Keeneland [100-40-30-20-10 qualifying points]. He took the same path with 2021 Demoiselle winner Nest, who finished second in the Kentucky Oaks en route to scores in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade 1 Alabama this summer at Saratoga.
“We’ll ship her down to Palm Beach Downs [on Monday],” Pletcher said. “We’ll lay out a game plan. I need to talk about it with Barbara Banke and the Stonestreet people, but I’m kind of thinking about a similar path as Nest had with the Suncoast as a possibility maybe leading into the Ashland after that. Plenty of time to sort that out.”
Julia Shining also overcome adversity to win her October debut at Keeneland, traveling wide and making up considerable ground.
“I think that’s been a reflection of just how talented she is. She’s still putting things together; she’s still learning to accept the kickback,” Pletcher said. “Until she becomes a little more seasoned, we might have to sacrifice some ground loss to keep her in the clear, but for her to win those two races shows how much natural talent there is there.”
Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable and Gainesway Stable’s Wit shipped to Del Mar for a third-place finish in Saturday’s Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.
“I think he didn’t quite get the trip we were hoping for, but he was still closing in the end. He certainly showed he’s capable,” Pletcher said.
Pletcher said Wit will ship to Palm Beach Downs on Thursday and could rest up for a summer campaign. He did not rule out the Grade 1, $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational on January 28 at Gulfstream Park.
“We’ll get him to Palm Beach Downs and assess where we are,” Pletcher said. “I suppose the two choices are to give him a little freshening and point for a summer campaign or we could consider the Pegasus. We’ll get him home, see how he took the race and come up with a plan from there.”
Never worse than fourth in 10 lifetime stats, Wit owns Grade 3 scores in last year’s Sanford at Saratoga and this year’s Bay Shore at the Big A. He showed an affinity for turf this summer at Saratoga with a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame and a victory in the restricted Better Talk Now.
St. Elias Stable’s multiple Grade 1-placed Dr Post, a 5-year-old son of Quality Road, has breezed consistently in South Florida, most recently working five furlongs in 1:00.96 at Gulfstream Park.
“He’s nearing a return. He’s doing well, came back in good shape so far,” Pletcher said.