March 16, 2018
In the early days of HRP, it was not uncommon for the fillies and mares to be just as dominant as the colts and geldings. It was also a time when many of the newer stables, including yours truly, were racing at the free tracks like MNR to get our feet wet. But every once in a while, a diamond in the rough comes along to steal the show and while Icicle was lighting up the Handicap division, one filly was lighting up the Distaff division. Her name was Java Jive.
Inaugural Horse Of The Year, Poisonessmonster garnered a lot of attention in the first days of HRP, as did Keuka Rainbow when she bested the boys in both the Grade III Flash and the Grade III Bashford Manor, so it was nothing special when Java Jive came onto the track at RP on August 13, 2004 and won a 5.5-furlong maiden race by five-lengths. An allowance win at CBY set her up for a big jump in class at BEL and the Grade I Matron was her coming out party, where she ended up a head in front of Keuka Rainbow at the wire. A second in the Grade I Frizette to Waimea Bay, ahead of Keuka Rainbow once again, put her squarely as one of the favourites for the Grade I BC Juvenile Fillies, but she was outfinished by her old rival in a loss by a whisker. Speed was on display in her next two starts, but on-the-board finishes in both the Grade II Golden Road and the Grade I HOL Starlet might have dampened her spirits heading into her three-year-old campaign.
You could not fault owner Wild Spirits for cutting back Java Jive to a sprint distance for the start of her three-year-old campaign and she handled it with aplomb in a wire-to-wire Grade II win in the Ynez Stakes, again over long-time rival Keuka Rainbow. But Wounded Heart got the better of her in the Grade I Las Virgines, Waimea Bay beat her in the Grade I SA Oaks and she simply did not have enough in the tank to last the 8.5-furlongs of the Grade I Ashland at KEE, finishing in sixth for her first off-the-board finish in 11 attempts. But as fate would have it, the complexion of the Grade I KY Oaks changed completely when champion Keuka Rainbow decided to enter the KYD instead and facing lone speed to her inside, she was able to ran away late for a three-length score that put her at the top of her division. The surprise addition of blinkers for the Grade I Acorn at BEL helped her handle the one-mile distance and she wound up beating a trio of previous Grade I winners in the process, setting her up for one of the best races of her career. Nine-furlongs over the mammoth BEL dirt was the setting for the Grade I Mother Goose and while there were some very good fillies in the field, the star of the show was Java Jive and she cruised to the easiest of victories by a solid four-lengths. Her fourth Grade I win in a row came a month later in the CCA Oaks over only three rivals and while the Grade I Alabama was supposed to be tougher with the return of her familiar foes like Wounded Heart, Waimea Bay and Winter Star, she was more than up to the task in a wire-to-wire score by five-lengths going-away.
Since the beginning of May, Java Jive had wracked up five straight Grade I wins with almost stunning ease and owner Wild Spirits knew that the move into the older ranks was necessary. Staying in NY, she opted for the Grade I Ruffian Handicap, where she was forced to concede 10 to 13 pounds to Graded Stakes caliber older runners, over the Grade I Beldame, where she would have actually carried less than her opponents, and that made all the difference. Carrying that extra weight over a deep BEL track, the “Queen of NY” was unable to hold her speed in the late stages, eventually finishing second to Grade I winning sprinter Story Teller, and with the stage set for the Grade I BC Distaff over the same BEL surface, the questions started to arise about her fitness after such a grueling season.
October 29, 2005. BEL racetrack in NY. Ideal conditions and a fast main track made for the perfect BC day and with eyes focused squarely on both the BC Distaff and the BC Classic, the stage was set for a couple of epic battles. Unfortunately for Java Jive, her loss in the Ruffian had probably cost her Horse Of The Year to Icicle but there was still redemption on the line over her preferred track and now, with the weights in her favour, she got a chance to shine. In a full field of 14, she faced no less than seven Grade I winners but with straight and strong strides, she rocketed away from rivals down the lane to score by more than five-lengths with Grade I Spinster winner Inanimate Object in second, Grade I HOL Starlet winner Las Vegas in third and defending champion Darling Harbour in fourth while no real match for the winner. With an eye on a last gasp bid for Horse Of The Year, she shipped all the way to SA for the Grade I La Brea Stakes but wound up second-best to the much fresher Dance For A Dime and at the end of the day, probably expended more energy than she needed to at the end of a long campaign.
2005 came to a close with Java Jive winning the title as Top Three-Year-Old Filly but her career was cut short after only one race as a four-year-old; a fifth-place finish sprinting in the Grade I Santa Monica. After a huge second- and three-year-old season, she was retired with a record of 10-6-2 from 20 career starts and nearly $3500.000 in lifetime earnings, making her one of the richest fillies or mares of her generation. But more importantly, she was allowed to start her broodmare career with one of the highest profiles ever seen at HRP and the resulting filly, out of homebred Wood Memorial and BEL winner Habanero, was a sight to behold. Auctioned for a then unheard-of $322.380 to Barefoot Racing, Havanero finished up-the-track in a pair of races, was retired and ended up as the dam of stakes winner Jivin Jack and three other winners while never achieving the success of her dam. A colt out of allowance winner SimbasPride was named Jungle Jive and wound up Grade III placed but she was never able to recreate her magic in the breeding shed despite matings with some of the top colts at HRP and for all intents and purposes, she wound up as a dud broodmare.
At a time when HRP was really finding its strides on both the racetrack and in the breeding shed, it was Java Jive who really shone brightly and put the “hype” in hypothetical matings. Her accomplishments on the track, coupled with the expectations of her in the breeding shed, made owner Wild Spirits a household name but time has taken the shine off of those days as changes have put a new spotlight on conformation and pedigree that was not there at the beginning. She is an example of what racing on a continuous basis can do and the “Queen Of NY” truly was, one for the ages.
Triple T Racing 🙂
Categories: FEATURED STORIES