Oak Crest Farm's homebred Sutra took advantage of a hot pace to tally a rail-skimming victory under jockey Mike Luzzi in Saturday's $400,000 Frizette (gr. I) for 2-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.
Shipping in from the Midwest for trainer Michael Stidham, the 12-1 shot Sutra dueled with Enchanting Star, ridden by Mike Smith, for the final furlong to win the one-mile event in a slow time of 1:40 1/5 for the one-turn, one-mile test on a fast track. The victory, by 1 3/4 lengths, was Sutra's second in three lifetime starts.
Going against his own experience, Luzzi said he kept his mount down on the rail and found that was the right place to be.
"Around the turn, I just kept catching all the breaks," Luzzi said. "It was a decision to go outside or inside turning for home. At Belmont, you don't want to, but I made the decision to stay inside. I had to work on her a little bit, but she took it. "
After missing by a nose to 35-1 shot Lisa M in Arlington Park's Arlington Breeders' Cup Lassie (gr. III) in the slop Sept. 10, Sutra was one of only two fillies in the race to have experience at one mile. The Kentucky-bred dark bay daughter of Meadowlake
--Desert Liason (Woodman) broke her maiden by 2 3/4 lengths with an eye-catching move in her debut at Arlington at six furlongs.
"She's a real level-headed filly," said Stidham. "She's done everything right since the day I got her. In her first start, she hopped at the start and was last and came flying from behind. When she ran in the Lassie, it was a real sloppy mess. She might have made the lead a little too early and we got beat a dirty whisker.
"We're very happy with her. Certainly, after this, we would have to think about the Breeders' Cup."
Luzzi was aboard Sutra for the first time in the Frizette. She has been training on the Keeneland all-weather track since Arlington's 2006 season ended.
"I was a little concerned when I looked at the track – it looked like a dry beach out there," Stidham said. "I didn't know how she would handle it because she had been training on Polytrack for three months.
She was well off the pace down on the inside as Lilly Carson, pressed early by Belmont Matron (gr. I) winner Meadow Breeze and a fractious Ticket to Seattle, set hot early fractions of :22 3/5 and :45 4/5. Our Fantene took the lead on the turn but faded in the stretch as Lilly Carson, racing between Sutra on the inside and Enchanting Star on the extreme outside, made it interesting in the lane. In deep stretch, Sutra took command.
Enchanting Star finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of the third-place finisher Lilly Carson.
Sutra earned $240,000 for the win, increasing her bankroll to $288,00. She paid $27, $13.20, and $8.30. Maiden winner Enchanting Star, making her stakes debut, returned $41.60 and $18.80, completing a $964 exacta. Lilly Carson, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, was $8.10 to show, rounding out a $7,714 trifecta.
While Sutra is under consideration, the second and third-place finishers are not expected to try the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs Nov. 4.
Second-choice Awesome Ashley finished fourth Saturday, followed by Dinner Break, 2-1 favorite Allude, True Addiction, Our Fantene, Meadow Breeze, and Ticket to Seattle, who was eased in the stretch.