Main Line Racing Stable’s Joint Return showed that racing in last can pay off even when speed holds as the 3-year-old filly passed rivals around the turn and into the stretch to win the $65,000 Calder Oaks at Calder Casino & Race Course on Saturday.
“You don’t take them out of their running style, and that’s the thing,” said jockey Kendrick Carmouche. "We just let her run her pace all the way around, and once she got to the three-eighth pole she knew where she wanted to go from there. All you have to do is guide her to the finish line.”
Fractional times for the race were :23.91, :49.14, 1:14.55, and 1:41.71, with a final time of 1:48.94.
The 1-2 frontrunners from the start, Flutterby and Florida Sun, held the lead throughout much of the 1 1/16-mile race as they battled for the lead before Flutterby set the pace with Florida Sun racing just behind her. Dream Come True looked ready to move on the frontrunners while racing in third, but faded as Joint Return swept around on the outside on the final turn, and Florida Sun took the lead from Flutterby. An all-out drive by Florida Sun and the closing Joint Return brought a battle down the stretch, with Joint Return eventually taking over to win by one and three-quarters of a length.
Joint Return brought $4.40, $4.20, and $3.00 for the win. Florida Sun paid $15.20 and $8.60 for the second-place finish, and Flutterby returned $4.20 for third.
Rounding out the order of finish were Dream Come True; Fierce Boots; Fast Betty Blue; and White Legend. Faith Hall and Her Special Way were scratched.
The supplemental Triple Crown nominee now has four wins from six starts and earnings of $168,154. Joint Return came into the Calder Oaks off of a fifth-place finish in the Grade II Gulfstream Oaks at Gulfstream Park in March. The Calder Oaks was Joint Return’s second stakes victory. She scored her first stakes victory in her first attempt in the 1 1/16-mile Busher Stakes at Aqueduct Race Track in February. The win in the Busher was Joint Return’s third career victory in a row after she broke her maiden in a 1-mile maiden special weight at Parx Racing last November and scored a 1-mile allowance at Parx in January.
“Kendrick and I talked the last couple of races about her needing blinkers,” said trainer Jason Servis. “We need to do something to put her in the race early because she can’t keep spotting the field like that. Depending on how she comes out of it we’ll certainly look at the Black-Eyed Susan, see what happens with the (Kentucky) Oaks.”
The 1/18-mile Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan is held on May 16 at Pimlico Race Course one day before the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1 Preakness Stakes.