Skeedattle Associates’ Just Howard won his fourth straight race and earned his first graded stakes victory by three-quarters of a length over Voodoo Song in the $200,000 Commonwealth Derby-G3 for 3-year-olds at Laurel Park on Saturday, Sept. 30.
Under jockey Feargal Lynch, Just Howard stalked pacesetter Voodoo Song, the 3-5 favorite, through early fractions of 22.97 seconds, :46.47 and 1:10.33 in the 1 1/8-mile turf race. The Maryland-bred son of English Channel trailed by one and a half lengths at the top of the stretch but steadily gained on the pacesetter and finished in 1:45.81, a record for the Kelso Turf Course layout.
Sent off at 7-1, the fourth choice in the field of six, Just Howard returned $16.80. Voodoo Song held second, beating Stuart Janney III’s Profiteer by a length.
Robert “Willie” White of Skeedattle Associates said his Clarksville, Md.-based three-person partnership of nearly three decades purchased the yearling colt for $37,000 at the 2015 dispersal sale of horses owned by the late Howard Bender, a prominent Maryland breeder and owner with his wife Sondra. They named the horse after Bender.
“We have Just Howard and it’s very exciting,” White said. “He’s just a nice, solid horse. He does all the things that you want a horse to do. [Trainer] Graham [Motion] has been so excited about how he’s developed and gotten better.”
The third foal for the Alphabet Soup mare Aruban Sandwich, Just Howard descends from Sondra and Howard Bender’s famed foundation mare Foufa, the dam of five stakes winners, including graded turf winner Foufa’s Warrior. Just Howard has won three straight stakes, all at Laurel – the Caveat in July in his stakes debut, the Find over older runners in August, and now the graded Commonwealth Derby. He has earned $266,520 in nine starts, with four wins, two seconds and a third.
Read more about the running of the Commonwealth Derby here