The forecast for this year’s Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) will become a little clearer Oct. 6 at Belmont Park, following the results of the $400,000 Frizette Stakes (gr. I).
Expected to be on the front end in the nine-horse field of 2-year-old fillies is the Bob Baffert-trained Indian Blessing. In her debut, the daughter of Indian Charlie ran through 5½-furlongs in 1:03.26 at Saratoga Aug. 30 in a maiden special weight after setting blazing early fractions of :21.49 and :44.37. Bred and owned by Hal and Patti Earnhardt, Indian Blessing takes a giant stretch out to the Frizette’s one-mile distance, attempting to remain unbeaten en route to the Oct. 26-27 Breeders’ Cup at Monmouth Park.
Speedster Dill Or No Dill, an Evansville Slew filly owned by Chris Baccari, also figures to be on the pace with her front-running style. The Joseph Petalino trainee wired the field in her last victory, the Sept. 3 Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park in Oklahoma, and she broke her maiden at first asking in the same style June 16. Between those races was a third-place effort July 28 in the Sliver Spur Breeders’ Cup Stakes at Lone Star Park. Out of the Southern Halo mare Sapphire Halo, Dill O No Dill was bred in Kentucky by James M. Herbener Jr.
A Little Gem has never run at Belmont or at the one-mile distance, but she comes off back-to-back victories at Monmouth Park for breeder/owner Martin Cherry. Trained by Steve Margolis, the daughter of Yonaguskawon the Sept. 2 Sorority Stakes at the New Jersey track after rating comfortably through the first quarter of the six-furlong race and then launching a swift, wide bid that carried her to the lead a furlong from home.
“She went into the Sorority off a dynamite maiden win at Monmouth,” said Margolis, who won the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) with Cajun Beat. “The pace was pretty fast early in the Sorority, so (jockey) Jose (Lezcano) eased her back, circled the field and drew off nicely. I was impressed with the way she did it. She showed she’s not a one-dimensional speed horse.
"We thought this would be a good spot to try a mile, being it’s a one-turn mile. She’s already won a couple of times at Monmouth and I know she likes that track. It’s time to step up and face better horses.”
Finishing fifth behind A Little Gem in the $120,000 Sorority was Frizette rival Elocution, a Mutakddimfilly trained by Steve Asmussen. Prior to the Sorority, she scored a victory in the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies Aug. 4 for Heiligbrodt Racing Stable. Elocution breaks from post three under Shaun Bridgmohan. Elocution was bred in Kentucky by Hermitage Farm.
Returning to the dirt after a powerful maiden victory on the turf Sept. 20 at Belmont Park is the Patrick Reynolds-trained Backseat Rhythm, a daughter of El Corredor who earned a 91 Beyer in her 1 1/16-mile performance at Belmont.
“We were looking for the stretch (in distance) more than anything, not necessarily the turf,” Reynolds said. “I’ve always felt she had a lot of class, but not much early lick. Those maiden sprints on the dirt at Saratoga are tough for a horse that doesn’t have much early speed.”
Even though Backseat Rhythm finished fourth and fifth in a pair of Saratoga dirt races (going five and six furlongs) for owner Paul Pompa Jr., Reynolds is confident she’ll handle the surface switch in the Frizette.
“I’m looking for her to explode when they turn for home,” he said. “Believe me, she’s on edge and ready to go.”
The maiden Armonk, second to Proud Spell Sept. 15 in the Matron (gr. II) at Belmont, gets blinkers and joins stablemate Sabooh, fifth in the Matron, as an uncoupled entry from the barn of Kiaran McLaughlin. Color Me Up and Sunday Holiday complete the field.
The Frizette Stakes (gr. I), $400,000, Belmont Park, approximate post 5:02 p.m., one mile, 2-year-old fillies.
All starters carry 120 pounds
PP, Horse, Jockey
1. Dill Or No Dill, Michael Luzzi
2. Color Me Up, Eddie Castro
3. Elocution, Shaun Bridgmohan
4. Backseat Rhythm, Javier Castellano
5. Sabooh, Cornelio Velasquez
6. Indian Blessing, Garrett Gomez
7. A Little Gem, Jose Lezcano
8. Armonk, Eibar Coa
9. Sunday Holiday, Kent Desormeaux