Trainer Russell’s Quirky ‘Project’ Filly, Half To Shedaresthedevil, Wins Belated Debut – Horse Racing News

Jemison, half sister to 2020 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Shedaresthedevil, lands career debut at Laurel Park

Jemison, a 4-year-old half sister to three-time Grade 1-winning multimillionaire Shedaresthedevil, made it look easy beating the boys in her career debut Sunday at Laurel Park.

Ridden by Jevian Toledo for trainer Brittany Russell, Jemison ($4.20) ran six furlongs in 1:10.95 on a fast main track to win the maiden special weight for horses 3, 4 and 5 years old by 7 ¼ lengths despite being fractious behind the gate and bobbling at the start.

“I’m delighted. It’s awesome,” Russell said. “She’s a racehorse, so now we just have to keep her together and keep her brain right.”

Owned by First Row Partners, Team Hanley, Parkland Thoroughbreds, and Paul Braverman, Jemison drew outside each of five rivals and found herself pressing a pace of :23.30 and :46.76  set by Heaven’s Got Fire, who had made 11 previous starts. Jemison drew even approaching the stretch, took a short lead once straightened for home, opened up through the lane and was hand-ridden to the wire.

“She was a project with tons of talent, so it’s pretty nice she ended up with us,” Russell said. “You can see, like in the gate she’s got some quirks about her. She’s big and she’s powerful so you have to be very careful with her. It’s been tricky. She’s been tricky. She’s been a project, but we knew the talent was there so that was why we continued.”

Bred by WinStar Farm, Jemison is by Outwork out of the Congrats mare Starship Warpspeed. Her half sister Shedaresthedevil won the 2020 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) and 2021 La Troienne Stakes (G1), and Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) while amassing lifetime earnings of $2,366,458.

Jemison was purchased by Crow-Sharp Ventures for $150,000 out of Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky select yearling sale from the Taylor Made Sales consignment. She spent the spring of 2020 at Keeneland and early winter of 2020-2021 at Oaklawn Park before landing with Russell, working steadily since late November primarily at Laurel.

“I think she was always very forward in her early training as a 2-year-old and things like that. They knew she had talent,” Russell said. “She was probably so forward that she didn’t have a lot of work beside horses and things, so we kind of had to go back to the beginning and teach her how to run beside horses and things like that. But, on the other hand, she’s coming by here clocking :15s and it’s like, ‘How do you put her with horses?’ It’s just been a process, but we knew that was what we had.”

Russell hadn’t intended on starting Jemison against males, but finding a race and keeping her on a track she knew was important.

“We’ve entered her like 10 times,” Russell said. “We wanted to keep her home. The gate crew knows her, Toledo knows her, so the whole home aspect was the goal. We got it accomplished. I’m glad we did it.”

Russell said the connections had not looked beyond Sunday’s unveiling.

“Of course you want to dream big with her, but just getting this out of the way was such a huge relief. We’ll just see how she comes back and go from there.”

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