Testa Rossi wins the Miss Grillo Stakes.
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Testa Rossi wins the Miss Grillo Stakes.
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Testa Rossi Gets the Nod in Tight Miss Grillo

French import wins in United States debut by a nose over Sky Painter at Belmont Park.

Making her first start in the United States, French import Testa Rossi came from far out of it to capture the $200,000 Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by a nose over Sky Painter Oct. 7 on the turf at Belmont Park.

Shipped to trainer Chad Brown in August after being purchased privately, Testa Rossi is owned by James Cavello, Thomas Coleman, and DMZ Racing Stable.

The 2-year-old daughter of Dr Fong had won three consecutive sprints in her native France, but handled the added distance well while forced to dig deep in the final strides for jockey Jose Lezcano to deny Sky Painter. Testa Rossi, sent off at odds of 5-1, was timed in 1:41.73 for the 1 1/16-mile Miss Grillo over a firm Widener turf course. Dancing House finished four lengths father back in third, edging favorite Granny Mc's Kitten, who is also trained by Brown.

The victory in the Miss Grillo means a guaranteed berth in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT) over one mile Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park as a "Win & You're In" designated race. Brown said afterward he hopes to take Granny Mc's Kitten to the World Championships as well.

"I wasn't concerned about the extra distance," said Brown, who won the Miss Grillo and the inaugural BC Fillies Turf with Maram in 2008. "I have a bunch of these fillies and I picked the two I thought would give me the best chance to win, and she was one of them."

It was a great day at Belmont for Brown, who also won the Pilgrim Stakes (gr. IIIT) with 2-year-old Bobby's Kitten , who earned a slot in the $1 million Juvenile Turf (gr. IT).

Echale Salsita showed the way for six furlongs at 53-1 odds as Testa Rossi lagged at the back through fractions of :23.75, :47.35, and 1:12.05. Angled five wide rounding the turn Testa Rossi waited for Lezcano to give her his cue before launching her bid with less than a quarter mile to run. Showing a great turn of foot, Testa Rossi swept past her rivals to take a one-length lead with a furlong to run, then showed some gameness in holding off the fast-finishing Sky Painter and Luis Saez.

"At the half-mile I angled out a little bit, and I had to decide if I had to go early," Lezcano said. "She showed me a lot of class. She pulled up a little bit (when she made the lead), but when she saw (Sky Painter) on the outside she gave a little more."

Brown added, "Her works were goodthey weren't greatbut you know what? She's a good-looking horse, she's got good form and every week she seems to be improving. The idea was to go ahead and enter her, knowing she's on the improve."

Sky Painter and Dancing House, who was ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., raced as a coupled entry for Darley and Godolphin, respectively, and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he was pleased by the efforts of both.

"We were unlucky to lose a tough photo, but congratulations to the winning team," he said. "We'll talk about the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf."

Testa Rossi, who raced with Lasix for the first time, bumped her career earnings to $175,439 with her fourth victory from six starts. She was coming off an allowance win at Maisons-Laffitte July 7.

Barbara Moser bred the winner out of the Dancing Spree mare Peggy Lane.

Testa Rossi carried 119 pounds and paid $12.60, $6.30, and $4.50 as the third choice. The entry returned $4 and $4.10 and completed an exacta worth $58.

Granny Mc's Kitten was followed by Duff One, Morethanawarning, Echale Salsita, Miss Frost, Bikini Beauty, Selenite, and Sea Bubble. Candy Kitty scratched.