Favored Adieu showed her credentials as one of the leaders in the juvenile filly division with a game two-length victory in the Frizette (gr. I) over a sloppy Belmont Park track Saturday.
It was anything but easy. Under frantic urging from John Velazquez, Adieu shook loose from a stubborn Along the Sea in the final furlong. Adieu, a bay daughter of El Corredor
, was coming off a victory in Saratoga's Spinaway (gr. II) and was the only graded stakes winner in the nine-horse Frizette field.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Adieu has now won four of five in her career, her only defeat when she was fourth to Folklore in the Adirondack (gr. II) in July.
"I didn't think she liked the track in the Adirondack, but that track was dry and cuppy," Pletcher said. "This track was far from that. I was more optimistic on a track like this than I would have been on a dry, cuppy surface. She has to have established herself as divisional leader. She has a 2-1 edge in her record over Folklore."
The one-mile Frizette, which she completed in 1:36 on sloppy going, was her longest race to date. She has now won both of her starts at Belmont Park, where she's sure to be a leading contender in the $1 million Alberto VO5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) on Oct. 29. She increased her earnings to $554,470 owners Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier, et al.
Adieu had to overcome the inside post, breaking on top for Velazquez before falling back a bit to track Mykindasaint through fractions of :22 1/5, :45 1/5 and 1:11 2/5. Able to angle out for a run at the leader on the outside on the turn, Adieu was under a ride as she was challenged by Along the Sea. The two battled down the long stretch until Adieu gained the advantage under strong handling and pulled away in the final stages.
Velazquez was happy for the win but admitted to being a little anxious as well.
"Once I got her outside, I kept giving her a little more," Velazquez said. "She is still waiting on horses a little. I was on her, so I was confident. Watching it, I bet people were saying, `She is going to be dead.' For whatever reason, she doesn't like making the lead. I kept her going. She is still learning."
"We were concerned with the inside post," said Pletcher. "The strategy was to have her break well, let her run away from there. Wayne's filly (Mykindasaint, trained by D. Wayne Lukas) looked to be the speed of the race. We were trying to move outside of her and get outside position. Fortunately, it worked out well."
Glencrest Farm LLC bred Adieu, a $300,000 Fasig-Tipton sale in February. She's out of the At the Threshold mare Irene's Talkin.
The 8-5 favorite, Adieu paid $5.20, $3.70, and $2.90.
Along the Sea, who was four lengths behind Adieu while third in the Spinaway, returned $9.10 and $5.10 with Javier Castellano aboard.
"She ran very good," said Castellano. "This was a good race for her. I still think she is going to improve with more distance. She was second behind a nice horse."
Keeneland Kat, ridden by Joe Bravo, was $3.80 to show after breaking poorly on the outside.
"It's a shame she lost so much ground breaking from the 9-hole, but she never gave up the bit," Bravo said.
Better Now, Catch My Fancy, Mykindasaint, Miss Norman, Philanthropy Lady and Heckuva Rush trailed.