05/05/2006 11:00PM

La Troienne: Joint Effort proves best

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Joint Effort, ridden by Edgar Prado, wins the La Troienne Stakes on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Joint Effort, ridden by Edgar Prado, took full advantage of a rail opening on the turn and went on to a near-record victory Saturday in the $119,600 at Churchill Downs.

Leaving the half-mile pole, Prado guided Joint Effort past front-running Morner, and the issue was pretty much settled thereafter, as Joint Effort glided to a 3 1/4-length score over favored Adieu in the 7 1/2-furlong La Troienne. The winning time was 1:28.18, just missing the 1:28.08 mark set four years ago by Miss Lodi.

Joint Effort, bred and owned by Don Dizney, returned $15.80 to win as co-third choice in a field of nine 3-year-old fillies. In her previous start, the Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland, Joint Effort, a daughter of Runaway Groom, had finished fifth, but trainer Dale Romans said he was confident the return to Churchill, her home track, would suit the filly.

"She was impressive today," said Romans. "She loves this surface. When she's on her game and has things go the way they did today, she's about as good as it gets."

Smart N Pretty, a second Romans trainee and the 7-2 second choice, finished third, another 2 3/4 lengths behind. Then came Morner, Beholden, Sweet Belle, Classical Ryder, Lake Alice, and Tactical Warning.

Adieu, one of the top 2-year-old fillies of last year, tracked Joint Effort from the inside but was unable to make up enough ground to menace down the stretch.

Victory in the Grade 3 La Troienne was the fourth from 12 career starts for Joint Effort, who now has earned $315,426.

The La Troienne was making its Derby Day debut after being run for years on the Thursday before Derby.