Juanita Wins Indiana Oaks
Juanita and rider Julien Leparoux dazzled fans with a surprising win in the 16th running of the Grade II $200,000-added Indiana Oaks at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino Saturday, Oct. 1. The duo covered the one and one-sixteenth mile race in 1:45.20 over a track that was upgraded to fast after a sloppy start for the day.
Juanita wasted little time getting control of the petite field of five, rushing out of the gate from post three and landing in the top spot early. Daisy Devine and James Graham also left the gate well, moving into second along with Nasty Rumor and Hoosier Park’s leading rider Leandro Goncalves between horses. Heavily favored A Z Warrior and Martin Pedroza attempted to join the early chase but were caught wide heading into the first turn.
As Nasty Rumor, Daisy Devine, and A Z Warrior sorted out positions heading down the backstretch, Juanita continued on task holding steady to the final turn. The three-year-old Mineshaft filly even put more distance between herself and her opponents heading into the final turn. Daisy Devine and A Z Warrior began to drop back, giving Withgreatpleasure and Rafael Mojica Jr. a chance to shoot up along the inside, finding themselves as the only pair within striking distance of Juanita for the stretch drive.
In the stretch, Juanita continued to roll on home, opening up by four and three-quarter lengths at the finish to win her first Graded Stakes event. Withgreatpleasure was a solid second over Daisy Devine, who held position for third.
“I wanted to break good and on the lead,” said Leparoux. “This filly (Juanita) has tactical speed. She was relaxed and felt good the whole way.”
Leparoux is now two for two aboard Juanita. He won on the Kentucky-bred filly in her first start for Maker at Churchill Downs after being claimed for $25,000 at Gulfstream Park in March. Since joining the Maker barn, she has garnered three wins in four outings. Juanita is owned by William and Graydon Patterson and boosted her career earnings to more than $223,000.
“My sons actually picked this filly (Juanita) out,” said Graydon Patterson in an interview with HRTV’s Peter Lurie, who was on site covering Indiana Derby Day racing. “One son is here today and the other one isn’t. They picked her out with another filly. Since we have had both of them, we’ve had four wins out of five starts. I’m not sure where we’ll go next. We’ll just enjoy the moment.”
For Leparoux, it was the beginning of a successful day for the French-born jockey. He also won the $500,000-added Grade II Indiana Derby aboard Wilburn in the very next race. The win in both the Oaks and the Derby was the first for Leparoux. His only previous start in the Oaks was a second place finish in the 2007 edition aboard Boca Grande.