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My Juliet

TT - My Juliet 9.3.1977 Michigan Mile @ Detroit Race Course Anthony Black up.jpg

My Juliet, Anthony Black up (Keeneland Library Thoroughbred Times Collection)
My Juliet
Induction Year: 
2019
Foaled: 
1972
Breeder: 
J. R. Bettersworth
Owner: 
George Weasel, Jr.
Trainer: 
Eugene Euster, L. G. Ripley, S. A. Long, R. R. Ladd
Sire: 
Gallant Romeo
Dam: 
My Bupers
Damsire: 
Bupers
Career Years: 
1974-1977
Starts: 
36
First: 
24
Second: 
4
Third: 
2
Earnings: 
$548,859.00

Tab Wrapper

Bio

It wasn’t until 2007 that the Eclipse Awards established a separate category for the American Champion Sprint Female Horse. That means in 1976, when the then 4-year-old filly My Juliet was voted the top sprint horse and awarded her Eclipse Award, she earned her crown by besting all of racing’s other top males and females. She was just flat-out fast, regardless of gender.

 

For that honor, and for her sterling record of 24 victories, including 17 in stakes races, My Juliet earned her place in the ultimate winner’s in the Hall of Fame.

 

My Juliet’s fortitude and talent were certainly tested, and only proved what a gamer she was. In May 1976, she suffered a fracture to her left foreleg during her victory in the Vagrancy Handicap for fillies and mares at Belmont Park. Owner George Weasel opted for surgery and five months of recuperation for his stakes winner, who rewarded everyone by returning to competitive form — and then some.

 

In the 1976 Vosburgh Stakes at Aqueduct, My Juliet claimed a dramatic win by beating Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Bold Forbes in a speed duel that left the crowd of more than 26,000 stunned. Bold Forbes had gone off as the 1-2 favorite, while My Juliet was 9-1.  And there was even a dramatic foul charge against My Juliet’s new rider, Tony Black, from none other than Angel Cordero, Jr., who wound up being taken down from second to third for some dangerous tactics.

 

The heroine’s star turn at Aqueduct was memorialized in the New York Times, which gave a rousing replay of My Juliet’s Vosburgh win.

 

“Opposing five colts yesterday at Aqueduct, George Weasel Jr.’s 4‐year-old filly nailed down an Eclipse Award as the year’s champion sprinter by winning the $53,300 Vosburgh Handicap. To do it, she had to survive a speed duel with Bold Forbes, the front-running winner of this season’s Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes,” wrote Steve Cady, adding:

 

“In the final quarter mile of the seven‐furlong sprint, it was My Juliet who drew away steadily from heavily favored Bold Forbes. At the finish, she was two lengths to the good. And male chauvinists in the crowd of 26,960 were wondering how they could have her to go to the post at 9 to 1. She paid $20.20 for $2 to win, despite the remarkable credentials she carried into the race.’’

 

However, the story of My Juliet’s recovery and resurgence in 1976 and 1977 is best told by Black, the Philadelphia-based former jockey who benefitted from My Juliet’s switch in trainers from Steve Long to Eugene Euster following the leg fracture. With Jorge Velasquez unable to breeze My Juliet, and later unwilling to leave a nine-race card in New York to race My Juliet at other tracks in Delaware, New Jersey or Pennsylvania, Euster turned to Black.

 

“He said, ‘I want you to be the test pilot with her to see if she can make it back to the races,’” Black said.

 

The verdict was swift. The minute Black was up on My Juliet, he knew he was riding a standout.

 

“She was the most amazing horse,” Black said. “The first race back (an allowance race) she won in a gallop. She never had to break a sweat. The thing that stood out about My Juliet is that she was not intimidated by gender.’’

 

My Juliet continued to race in her fifth year, winning four more major stakes races. In addition to her speed, My Juliet was game in longer races, too. Her victory in the 1977 Michigan Mile and One-Eighth Handicap against males proved her race durability. She also went wire-to-wire in her win at the 1 1/16-mile Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico during her 3-year-old season.

 

The Kentucky-bred My Juliet was of sound bloodlines. Foaled in 1972, the daughter of Gallant Romeo out of the Bupers mare My Bupers went on to produce three stakes winners, including Grade 1 winners Tis Juliet (born 1986) and Stella Madrid (born 1987) via Racing Hall of Fame member Alydar.

 

My Juliet’s induction in the Hall of Fame is the right call, said Tony Black, the 67-year-old former rider who relishes the memory of My Juliet holding off all her rivals, including the boys.

 

“She wasn’t afraid of the boys, and this was the 1970s, with the women’s movement and equal rights and pay. I really respected all that and this horse was not afraid of the boys,’’ Black said.

 

That included the 1977 Neshaminy Handicap at Keystone, where My Juliet blew the doors off the 6½-furlong track record with a 1:14. She beat back Gallant Bob, another Eclipse Award-winning sprinter with a stellar career, and secured her undefeated record at Keystone in Philadelphia.

 

“Each of those guys took her for a quarter mile that day, Gallant Bob and Raise A King, who finished second (in the 1977 Neshaminy). She beat them both back. She was just amazing to ride. And now with her induction to the Hall, I get one more chance to ride her success. I still can’t believe I got to ride a horse of that caliber,’’ Black said.

 

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