By Dick Downey
The William Walker Stakes at Churchill Downs saw a big upset by the filly Jo Jo Air as heavily favored Bulletin finished fourth.
Bulletin, sent off at 1-10 odds, broke well under Javier Castellano from post 1 but was immediately confronted by Jo Jo Air, ridden by John Velazquez after breaking from post 5. The favorite and Jo Jo Air disputed the lead through fractions of 22.76 and 46.21 into the stretch before Bulletin finally yielded to the filly just above the furlong marker.
Jo Jo Air, trained by Wesley Ward, was timed in 58.86 on a turf course rated firm. The winner was sent off at 14-1 odds and paid $30.40 to win, $8.80 to place and $10.00 to show.
Uncapped, with James Graham aboard, got up for second after being in last place at the top of the stretch, beaten only three-quarters of a length. Legends of War was the same distance back in third and a head in front of Bulletin. They were followed across the finish line by Neverland Rock, Sovereign Impact and Hartel.
Jo Jo Air had been away from the races since January11, when she finished fourth in a turf allowance at Gulfstream Park restricted to 3-year-old fillies. Tonight's win was at her fifth track in as many starts. Meanwhile, Bulletin came into the race off an impressive win of the Palisades Turf Sprint Stakes at Keeneland off a six-month layoff and a win of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Jo Jo Air is a daughter of Scat Daddy out of the Grand Slam mare Tessie Flip. Owned by Richard Brodie's Andrew Farm and Mrs. Charlie O'Connoer, she was bred in Kentucky by Gabriel Duignan, Crosshaven Bloodstock, Petaluma Bloodstock and Circular Road Breede.
Winning jockey John Velazquez: “We sort of sat the perfect trip all the way around there. Turning to the three-eighths pole, I started to make my move, and she really dug in and responded gamely. It was a good kickoff to Derby Week.”
Brendan Walsh, trainer, Uncapped, second: “I’m really proud of our effort. I think with a better break we could have won the race.”
Javier Castellano, jockey on Bulletin: “He was sort of flat the entire way around there. Maybe he ran back too quickly.”