Skeedattle Stable’s Just Howard dug in on a steamy Saturday evening at Monmouth Park to take the first stakes on the abbreviated Haskell Day card, the $150,000 Oceanport-G3, on July 20. The chestnut son of turf champion English Channel made a courageous move down the stretch to edge favored Divisidero by a head and score his second career graded stakes victory and first win in nearly a year.
Trained by Graham Motion, the 5-year-old broke clean and went wide from the start before finding his place behind pacesetter Bird’s Eye View. He and Divisidero moved as a team as they rounded the final turn, surged down the stretch and hit the line together. Final time for the one and one sixteenth miles on the turf was 1:42.62.
“My horse showed nice determination in the stretch. He’s a cool horse and he deserved to win,” said Motion. “He’s been sitting on a win for a long time. It was a nerve-wracking day, but we got through it.
Leading up to the Oceanport, Just Howard finished third by a nose in the $250,000 Dixie Stakes-G2, run at the same distance over the Pimlico turf on May 18, and was also finished third last month in the Prince George’s County Stakes at Laurel Park.
Just Howard was purchased for $37,000 by Skeedattle Associates at the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling sale. He didn’t break his maiden until his sixth start in May 2017, then went on a tear, winning four in a row, including the Caveat Stakes in July, Find Stakes in August, and Grade 3 Commonwealth Derby in September, all at Laurel Park. Those efforts earned Just Howard the title of Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, champion 3-year-old male, and champion turf horse, which were presented at the inaugural Renaissance Awards.
With his most recent victory, Just Howard now has a record to 6-2-4 from 20 starts and total career earnings of $465,405.
Bred by Howard Bender, Just Howard is out of the Alphabet Soup mare Aruban Sandwich, a Sondra and Howard Bender homebred who produced six foals bred by the Benders—all four to race are winners. Just Howard is a half-brother to stakes winner Monte Crista, who won the Riskaverse Stakes at Saratoga last August for Country Life Farm.
To read more about the Oceanport Stakes, click here