Given a little tap on the turn of the one-mile Frizette by jockey Garrett Gomez, the Bob Baffert trainee Indian Blessing surged past the pacesetter Dill Or No Dill. Leading by several lengths in upper stretch, she won under wraps in a time of 1:37 3/5.
Owned and bred by Patti and Hal Earnhardt III, who campaigned the filly's sire Indian Charlie with Baffert, Indian Blessing becomes a leading contender in the Grey Goose Vodka Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park at 1 1/16 miles. However, she has not yet competed around two turns for Baffert, who has Oak Leaf (gr. I) heroine Cry and Catch Me for the championship event as well.
“She semi-rated," Baffert said of Indian Blessing. "She’s very fast. She’s been training easy in the morning. You never know about the distance until they go out and do it. This is very exciting. I’ve never won the Frizette. (It's) especially (nice) for Hal Earnhardt. He’s my oldest client. He’s been with me for 25 years."
Indian Blessing was no surprise to the bettors, who sent her off at odds of 3-5 in the field of nine. She quickly found a stalking position on the outside of Drill Or No Drill, who took the lead from Armonk soon after the start and carved early fractions of :22 2/5 and :45 2/5. Ridden confidently by Gomez, Indian Blessing cruised up on the outside as Drill Or No Drill, A Little Gem and Armonk tried to stay close. But Indian Blessing, after completing six furlongs in 1:10 2/5, responded to slight urging and was in complete control as she reached the head of the stretch. She led by eight lengths at the furlong pole.
Baffert added, “It looked like (Gomez) was shutting her down in the stretch, and then I hear the crowd getting excited and I said, `Uh-oh, she better get started again.' I told Garrett that he was starting to get us a little nervous.”
Backseat Rhythm, who broke her maiden on the grass at 1 1/16 miles Sept. 20 at Belmont, closed best under Javier Castellano to finish second while never threatening the winner. Sunday Holiday, a five-length maiden winner at Meadowlands Sept. 8, came on for third with Kent Desormeaux.
Indian Blessing began her career Aug. 30 at Saratoga with an impressive 5 1/4-length gate-to-wire win over maidens, completing the 5 1/2 furlongs in an eye-catching 1:03 1/5. Baffert had put four drills into the dark bay at Belmont before the Frizette, including a one-mile breeze in 1:41 from the gate Sept. 22.
“I’ve been able to work her a couple of times," Gomez said. "She’s been well responsive. I’ve been impressed with her. She’s just a little sweetheart and nice to be around. She was pulling a little bit. I had a couple of horses on my hip for a little ways. When (Dill Or No Dill) started to fold ... she cruised to the lead. I gave her a tap and she took off.”
Out of the Flying Chevron mare Shameful, the Kentucky-bred earned $240,000 for the victory and has now banked $277,200 in her two starts. She paid $3.30, $2.90, and $2.50.
Backseat Rhythm returned $6 and $4, completing a $19.60 exacta.
“This filly is a hard tryer," trainer Patrick Reynolds said. "The longer, the better. We went into this hoping she would run well and then go on to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Sunday Holiday finished 1 1 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up and was $3.70 to show for trainer Bill Mott. "The Breeders’ Cup is a possibility for her,” he said.
It was more than 16 lengths to fourth-place finisher Armonk, followed by A Little Gem, Sabooh, Drill Or No Drill, Elocution and Color Me Up.
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