08/09/2012 2:01PM

Monmouth Park: Jemima's Pearl returns for new connections in Monmouth Oaks


Jemima’s Pearl, freshened since a terrible trip in the Kentucky Oaks, returns to action Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Monmouth Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

And she will once again start for a new barn.

Now a member of Bret Calhoun’s stable, Jemima’s Pearl faces five rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race.

This will be her fourth U.S. start after going 1 for 5 last season in Ireland. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Jemima’s Pearl started the 2012 campaign with a first-level allowance win at Santa Anita. She was then transferred to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, running a close third in the Grade 2 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park. It was on to Churchill Downs for the Grade 1 Oaks where she broke in the air, got squeezed in traffic, and finished 10th.

The ownership group – Gillian Campbell, R Group Management, and Greenwood Lodge Farm – decided the filly’s best future opportunities were in the East. They turned to Calhoun, who trained their Summer Applause, the fourth-place finisher in this year’s Oaks.

“They basically wanted to get this filly to a different part of the country with more options to run outside California,” said Calhoun, who has had the filly for only a couple of weeks.

This is her best shot to date to earn a graded stakes victory. And it helps that Jemima’s Pearl seems to like Monmouth, working three furlongs in 35.60 seconds here last Sunday.

“She breezed easy,” Calhoun said. “We were just trying to get her across the track. I thought she handled it well. She seems to be in good health and she’s showing good energy. I think she’ll run a good race on Saturday.”

Jemima’s Pearl will need a solid effort to beat Morrow Cove, an easy winner in her last two, including the Serena’s Song Stakes, which is the Monmouth Oaks prep. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Morrow Cove earned a career-best 87 Beyer Speed Figure in the Serena’s Song.

Wine Princess and Final Escrow are both taking their initial stakes swing, and are both stepping up from first-level allowance wins.

Defy Gravity is stretching out for the first time. Trained by Valora Testerman, she was a rallying third here back in June in the six-furlong Just Smashing Stakes.

Like Jemima’s Pearl, Proud Pearl started her career in Europe. She was fourth most recently in the Lady Charles Town Stakes for trainer Graham Motion.