Racing Spotlight: Juliet Foxtrot, Ricardo Santana Jr., Gerald Bennett
Racing Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights a horse, jockey, and trainer with insightful information to help our players be informed.
This week, we highlight Juliet Foxtrot, a fierce competitor in Saturday’s Jenny Wiley Stakes; Ricardo Santana Jr., who continues to reach new milestones at Oaklawn; and septuagenarian Gerald Bennett, who is vying for his sixth consecutive Tampa Bay Downs training title.
Horse spotlight: Juliet Foxtrot
Juliet Foxtrot, who has finished in the top three in nine of 11 races since coming to America, makes her six-year-old bow Saturday in the Jenny Wiley S. (G1) at Keeneland. She seeks to improve on her third-place finish in the race last year, which was won by Rushing Fall, the Eclipse Award 2020 champion turf female.
In Juliet Foxtrot’s last out, the Matriarch S. (G1) at Del Mar on Nov. 29, the bay mare had the lead in the deep stretch and was outkicked at the end. She finished a half-length short for a close third. It was her second time to finish third in the Matriarch. Before that, she won the Gallorette S. (G3) at Pimlico.
Juliet Foxtrot was bred in England by owner Juddmonte Farms. She is related through her dam to Juddmonte standout Dancing Brave.
After showing promise in September 2017 with a win in her second career start, she was unplaced in her following six races.
In 2019, she flourished after a move to America and the barn of trainer Brad Cox. She won her first three stateside races, graduating to graded-stakes company in the third.
Juliet Foxtrot’s dam’s name, Kilo Alpha, also comes from the NATO phonetic alphabet. Her sire, Dansili, spent his career in Europe and flew to the States for the final race of his career, the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), where he finished third.
Jockey spotlight: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Ricardo Santana Jr., Oaklawn’s perennial leading rider, surpassed $30 million in career purse earnings from the Hot Springs track with a victory in the April 3 Fantasy S. (G3), pushing his total career earnings to over $86 million. The win secured Pauline’s Pearl, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, a place in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) starting gate. One race before, the jockey/trainer duo teamed up to take the listed Purple Martin S. with Abrogate.
Last season, Santana became Oaklawn’s career leader in purse earnings, exceeding the still-active Hall of Famer Calvin Borel.
Santana now has 595 Oaklawn victories (295 were for Asmussen), and he is poised to become the ninth rider in Oaklawn history to reach 600. He is named on eight horses when racing resumes Thursday and eight horses Friday.
On Saturday, Arkansas Derby Day, Santana has a mount on each of card’s 13 races, including two graded stakes. He rides champion Whitmore in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3), the grudge match between the chestnut gelding and C Z Rocket, who have flip-flopped in the top two places their last two races.
Santana will also pilot Super Stock for Asmussen in the Arkansas Derby (G1), the horse’s second start in his sophomore season. In his first, he finished fourth in the Rebel S. (G2), won by Concert Tour. Super Stock hit the board in the final five of his six starts as a juvenile in 2020, including the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) won by Essential Quality, who currently tops the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
Santana has a meet-high 49 victories this year – 16 more than runner-up Francisco Arrieta.
Trainer spotlight: Gerald Bennett
Competing for his sixth consecutive Tampa Bay Downs title and seventh overall, septuagenarian Gerald Bennett leads the standings in both wins and purse earnings. The only trainer with more titles on the Oldsmar oval is Jamie Ness, with nine.
This season, Bennett has 47 wins from 202 starts and has finished in the money at a 50% rate.
He is also an accomplished owner. Last year, his Winning Stables finished second in the track’s standings with 16 wins, three behind powerhouse Godolphin. This meet, he is two wins away from the lead.
Bennett is from Nova Scotia. He was running a gas station and repair shop when a customer who owned horses suggested he visit Woodbine. This led him to become a hotwalker, and he took out his trainer’s license in 1974. He spent the early part of his career at Woodbine and at the now-closed Detroit Race Course, where he was a leading trainer.
Today he ranks 14th all-time in North America with 3,967 victories. He is known for his astute eye that recognizes claiming horses with promise, and claiming is the backbone of his operation. However, he also saddled Beau Genius who scored in the 1990 Philip H. Iselin H. (G1) at Monmouth Park.
He is the father of successful trainer Dale Bennett, who has also raced at Tampa Bay and at Laurel this year. Gerald’s wife, Mary, is very involved in his operation.