12/30/2016 6:14PM

Bad Ju Ju goes from last to first in Kalookan Queen

Benoit & Associates
Bad Ju Ju, with Norberto Arroyo Jr. aboard, wins her third straight race and first stakes in the Kalookan Queen.

ARCADIA, Calif .- There was a time when Bad Ju Ju was too fast for her own good, the sort of filly who set the pace and faded. Times have changed.

In the last six months, Bad Ju Ju has consistently raced from off the pace. Friday, Bad Ju Ju closed from last in a field of eight to win the first stakes of her career in the $94,935 Kalookan Queen Stakes for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita.

Bad Ju Ju ($10.80) won her third consecutive race in the Kalookan Queen. She is unbeaten since being claimed for $40,000 by Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch and trainer Peter Miller in October. Miller said he cannot take credit for Bad Ju Ju’s new running style.

“She started rating before I got her,” Miller said.

Norberto Arroyo Jr. rode Bad Ju Ju on Friday and impressed Miller with his patient approach behind a torrid speed duel of 21.44 seconds for an opening quarter-mile and 44.18 for a half-mile.

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“Unbelievable,” Miller said. “That was a world-class ride. They were flying and she sat back and tipped out at the quarter pole. It was a thing of beauty.”

Bad Ju Ju was timed in 1:16.04, beating Brainspin, who was part of an early pace battle with Tuscany Beauty and Fantastic Style, the 1-2 favorite. Fantastic Style faded from contention in early stretch and finished fifth.

Bad Ju Ju was second with a furlong to go and won by 2 1/2 lengths over 6-1 Brainspin, who finished a length in front of 18-1 Ponder Lea. Dr. Fager’s Gal was fourth, followed by Fantastic Style, La Berma, Tuscany Beauty, and Stealth Drone.

Bad Ju Ju, a 4-year-old by Desert Code, has won 7 of 17 starts and earned $305,731. She has had three trainers, beginning her career with Mike Machowsky, who bred the 4-year-old filly with Dick Barton. Bad Ju Ju was claimed twice earlier this year – for $32,000 by trainer Doug O’Neill at Del Mar in July and by Miller in October.

Bad Ju Ju has earned $145,980 since being claimed two months ago.