Stonestreet Stables' homebred Dreaming of Julia just got the head victory on Saturday in Belmont Park's Grade 1, $380,000 Frizette Stakes after a stretch-long duel with near 3-1 second choice My Happy Face. The pair raced in tandem down the lane, in very close quarters at times, but Dreaming of Julia managed to take the win under jockey John Velazquez to move her record to a perfect three-for-three.
A long delay preceded the race after Roveing Patrol got cast in the starting gate for the one-mile contest. The starters and veterinarian finally got the trapped filly out of the stall, and she and Sweet Shirley Mae were scratched, leaving only three to face the near 1-5 favorite Dreaming of Julia.
My Happy Face grabbed a short advantage over Dreaming of Julia through splits of :23 1/5 and :46, but the A.P. Indy miss had drawn even by the time they reached the stretch. Dreaming of Julia took a slight lead, but My Happy Face battled back on the rail to threaten her bay rival while in tight on the inside. The duo battled it out, with the Todd Pletcher-trained Dreaming of Julia digging deep to win in a final time of 1:37 on the fast main track.
"We knew that the filly that finished second (My Happy Face) was very talented," Pletcher noted. "You're talking about two fillies that have won their last couple of races by a long way. They were running into a headwind down the backside and it was pretty fast fractions. With the track starting to dry out a little bit and with the long wait (at the starting gate), it was demanding.
"I think with the scratches, on paper, it turned into a virtual match race. Most match races, the speed horse has the edge, so we had to kind of take it to her a little bit. We hope (to run in the Breeders' Cup); we were looking at today as a prep, so we hope she comes out of it well."
"Not as easy as the last two, not at all," Velazquez said. "The other filly is a nice filly, she won (her last race) by 21 (1/4) lengths. I had to put pressure on her the whole way around to make it a match race and it ended up being a match race, anyway. But she's gutsy, that's what she is.
"The scratches changed the race; it went from being a lot of speed to me having to do the dirty job and not let (My Happy Face) get away."
My Happy Face had 10 3/4 lengths to spare on third-placer Toasting while Nancy O trailed in last throughout and was eased under the wire. Carameaway was an early scratch.
"She ran very, very good. She got the worst part of the track, and Johnny's filly got a perfect trip. But she ran very, very good," trainer Rudy Rodriguez praised My Happy Face.
"It was tight along the inside; there wasn't much room to work with, but I can't take anything away from the winner, either. No regrets," jockey Ramon Dominguez said of his ride aboard My Happy Face. "She ran hard, just a head short from winning, but she did everything right."
Dreaming of Julia was making her graded bow in the Frizette, having previously taken her maiden debut by 10 1/2 lengths on August 6 at Saratoga and scoring in the Meadow Star Stakes by 16 1/4 lengths on September 9 at Big Sandy. The winner's share from Saturday's race boosted her career earnings to $339,000.
The Kentucky-bred filly is out of the Wild Rush mare Dream Rush, a dual Grade 1 queen who racked up more than $750,000 while on track. Dreaming of Julia is her dam's first registered foal and comes from the same female family as multiple Grade/Group 2 victress Reine Mathilde.