Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won last year’s Frizette Stakes (gr. I) with Devil May Care, is likely to have a foursome for the $300,000 race Oct. 9 at Belmont Park.
The Frizette is one of three grade I events on the Belmont card along with the Champagne and the Jamaica Handicap.
Heading Pletcher's contingent for the Frizette is E. Paul Robsham Stables’ R Heat Lightning, a four-length winner of Saratoga's Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 5. The Trippi filly will be making her fourth start in the one-mile Frizette, having broken her maiden in July at Delaware Park and finishing second in the Colleen at Monmouth Park Aug. 7.
“She seems to have been handling the gradual progression of stretching out nicely,” said Pletcher Oct. 2. He also plans to saddle Tap for Luck, Maple Forest and Valiant Passion in the race.
“It’s a big jump up going from a five-furlong maiden win, but she is bred to stretch out and we’re optimistic she’ll handle that,” said Pletcher.
Maple Forest, front-running winner of her maiden effort at Saratoga on Aug. 5 and most recently the beaten favorite in the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Sept. 6, looks to be the speed of the group. The late-running Valiant Passion, a 9 ¼-length maiden winner at Saratoga on Aug. 12, was subsequently purchased by Team Valor International and finished third in the Spinaway for her new connections.
“I think she ran a credible race in the Spinaway,” said Pletcher of the Lion Heart filly. “Because of the negotiations, she’d had only one work between her first race and the Spinaway, and since then she’s had a steady series of works.”
Pletcher, who will saddle Repole Stable’s sensational maiden winner Uncle Mo as the likely favorite in the $300,000 Champagne Stakes (gr. I), said he may also enter Stay Thirsty in the one-mile race. The Bernardini colt, also owned by Repole Stable, was most recently second to Boys At Tosconova in the Three Chimneys Hopeful (gr. I) at Saratoga Sept. 6.
In other Frizette news, Joyful Victory, a debut winner over a route of ground at Delaware Park on Sept. 11, will make her first start against winners, trainer Tony Dutrow confirmed Oct. 2.
“We think she is a grade I filly,” said Dutrow. “I think we have a horse that can tackle such a feat.”
Owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, Joyful Victory will look to live up to the potential she has been showing in the mornings.
“She has been promising for the previous two months that she is a special filly,” said Dutrow. “Our expectations have been high.”
Elsewhere, trainer Nick Zito said that Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Ice Box , runner-up in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will make his next start on the grass in the$250,000 Jamaica Handicap.
Robert La Penta's 3-year-old son of Pulpit, ninth as the favorite in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and subsequently sixth in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) and eighth in the Travers (gr. I), has worked twice over the grass at Saratoga at a half-mile. He was timed in :51.50 on Sept. 10 and in :49.20 on Sept. 24.
“Bob and I talked about it, and we decided we have to make a change,” said Zito. “The Triple Crown, obviously is so tough on horses and you have to try something. So Bob thought, being that [dam Spice Island] won on the grass and with his style of running, let’s just try the turf. He’s worked a couple times on the grass, so we’ll try it. So we will see what happens. Hopefully this changes him around and he can step up.”