An eventful Journey Home in Jimmy Durante

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

November 27th, 2016

The juvenile fillies in Saturday’s $102,760 Jimmy Durante (G3) got more than they bargained for over the Del Mar turf: they had their reflexes tested unexpectedly as they raced straight into a debris field entering the clubhouse turn.

The 2-1 favorite, With Honors, had secured the lead until losing her action briefly while she shifted out to avoid the pitfalls. How About Zero was forced to go even wider as she auditioned as a jumper, and the field was jostled around seeking terra firma. The fillies did well to avert any serious mishap, but the foreign objects – later identified as foam drain covers blown onto the field by the blustery wind – were an inconvenience at the least, and more like an outright hazard.

In the jockeying and recovery that ensued, the rail-drawn Defiant Honor was able to capitalize to take over the lead. Although With Honors regrouped sufficiently to stalk, she’d lost her initial position, and arguably her best chance along with it. She accosted Defiant Honor down the lane, but by that point, they were fighting for the minor awards.

Meanwhile, Sam-Son Farm’s Journey Home, who had been anchored at the rear early, was staying on strongly out in the center of the course. Trained by Graham Motion and piloted by Drayden Van Dyke, the 7-1 chance churned 1 1/4 lengths clear. The Laurel debut maiden winner negotiated the one-mile obstacle course in 1:38.24, and the turf, listed as “firm,” was downgraded to “good” afterward.

Defiant Honor fended off With Honors by a neck for second, and Miss Sugars reported home fourth. The rest were mostly strung out, and the last two across the wire, La Force and Partyinthepaddock, were eased.

The stewards conducted an inquiry, but decided to let the result stand rather than declare a “no contest.” In conveying the ruling, track announcer Trevor Denman cited CHRB Rule 1544, which states that stewards may declare a “no contest” if a “majority” of the field is affected. The stewards deemed that a majority hadn’t been so affected. That sparked a Twitter controversy, especially since the chart comments offer a refrain of “debris” and “steadied.” Journey Home was a rarity in not having an explicit trouble line, and Motion himself was apprehensive about a potential no-contest ruling (as assistant Alice Clapham reported after Ring Weekend's victory in the Seabiscuit [G2.])

Journey Home has bankrolled $82,800 from her two-for-two line. Bred by W.S. Farish and Kilroy Thoroughbred Partnership in Kentucky, the daughter of War Front and the multiple Grade 1-placed A.P. Indy mare Soul Search was sold for $200,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. This is the deep family of champion Pleasant Stage and multiple Grade 1 turf star Marsh Side.

Photo courtesy of Benoit