(Justify My Love / All Photos by Coady Photography)
From the Horseshoe Indianapolis Media Team / Tammy Knox:
Justify My Love used a smooth move along the inside to rally home as the winner in the $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff as part of the Indiana Derby Day lineup of premier racing Saturday, July 8. The six-year-old mare provided a second win on the card for Jockey Joe Ramos, who completed a four-day win total of 11 wins, scoring three back to back hat tricks this week at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
There were two grey horses in the race, Justify My Love with Ramos, and Juncture with Marcelino Pedroza Jr. The two started side by side in the starting gate and raced side by side throughout. Justify My Love used some early speed to get attention in the first part of the one and one-sixteenth mile turf race but was overtaken pretty quickly in front of the grandstand the first time by a slew of horses on the outside, led by French Cuffs and Santo Sanjur. Once secure on the lead, French Cuffs drew off from the field by as many as four lengths at times.
Heading into the final turn, the field began to catch up with French Cuffs. Justify My Love looked hopelessly buried along the inside of the mass of horses, but once they straightened up for the stretch drive, Ramos found a hole and the grey mare shot through.
Once Justify My Love was on the lead she went to work. She was also joined by Lovely Princess and Brian Hernandez Jr. from the outside and the two females were entangled in a battle. In the end, Justify My Love got the edge, winning by a half length over Lovely Princess. Henrietta Topham and James Graham came from the back of the pack to finish third.
“The trainer told me the filly has some speed, so settle her behind the pace and make a move from the inside,” said Ramos, who was the 2022 Leading Jockey at Horseshoe Indianapolis. “He said she loves the rail, so that’s what I did. I just waited for my hole and let her do her thing.”
Justify My Love was a surprise, paying $26.00 for the win. The Brazilian bred daughter of Agnes Gold earned her first win of 2023 in her fourth start for owners Bonne Chance Farm and Stud Rio Dios Irmaos, who are the breeders. Paulo Lobo trains the six-year-old mare, who increased her career bankroll to more than $160,000 with the win.
“I always liked this filly,” said Lobo. “Nice mare. Very nice mare. I always liked her. We shipped her to Florida and she got sick coming back. She’s regrouping herself. She has a lot of stamina. I’ve always believed in her.”
It was the first time aboard Justify My Love for Ramos, who is currently among the top three jockeys this season at Horseshoe Indianapolis. It was also his third Handicap win in four days, capping off a run of 11 wins.
“I appreciate Paulo for giving me the opportunity,” added Ramos, a native of Puerto Rico and graduate of his country’s jockey school. “He has supported me the last four years, since I started. And I appreciate that. When I ride for him, the horses are very live. I just go out there 100 percent for him.”
When asked about specific instructions from Lobo, Ramos continued, “He told me to be patient, because the filly is ready and that she would win the race. He told me the filly had been slow in training and stuff but she’s 100 percent and doing really well. I went out there really confident. I enjoyed the ride. But remember, everything is possible because of God.”
The 21st season of live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing extends through Friday, Nov. 17. Live racing is held Tuesday through Thursday with Saturday racing added in during the summer months. First post Tuesday and Wednesday is 2:30 p.m. Thursday racing begins at 2:10 p.m. The Summer Saturday Racing Series includes four all-Quarter Horse dates July 22, Aug. 12, Sept. 2, and Oct. 7 beginning at 10:45 a.m. For more information on live racing at Horseshoe Indianapolis, visit www.caesars.com/horseshoe-indianapolis.