Trainer Tom Albertrani is looking forward to taking big steps with Gemswick Park and Royal Ballade in the $400,000 Frizette Stakes (gr.I) Oct. 4 at Belmont Park.
Gemswick Park, owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk, and the Darley-owned Royal Ballade, are coming off open-length maiden wins at Belmont Sept. 14. Both fillies led from gate-to-wire.
The one-mile Frizette is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race and will provide its winner with a starting berth to the $2-million Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr.I) Oct. 24 at Santa Anita. Last year’s Frizette winner, Indian Blessing, went on to win the Juvenile Fillies and the divisional championship.
Albertrani’s fillies, who are not coupled in the wagering, meet eight others in the Frizette. Coffee in Bed, Collegiate, Heavenly Vision, Miss Ocean City, Persistently, Sky Diva, War Echo, and Winning Brew are also entered.
So far, Gemswick Park, who is a daughter of Speightstown out of the Relaunch mare Queen’s Park, has proven to be the quicker of the Albertrani fillies.
In her second start, Gemswick Park won a six-furlong maiden race by 6 1/2 lengths and stopped the clock in 1:09.43. Earlier on the card, Royal Ballade, a daughter of Elusive Quality out of the In Excess mare Musical Chimes, won a six-furlong maiden race by 6 3/4 lengths 1:11.13 The race was Royal Ballade’s career debut.
Despite the disparity in the times, Albertrani has confidence in both fillies.
“I was pretty impressed by both fillies,” Albertrani said. “I always thought Royal Ballade was a really nice filly. Before she even came to my barn, (Darley) held her in high regard, and she always showed that in the morning, so we were expecting a big race out of her that day.
“Gemswick Park ran huge, two seconds faster than Royal Ballade, so I was very impressed with her as well. (Gemswick Park) is a really speedy filly. The only question I would have with her is how far she will go. She has distance on the dam side. Distance should be no problem for Royal Ballade. She actually galloped out strong, all the way to the mile pole after the wire.”
Albertrani said he is “looking forward to going” to the Breeders’ Cup with both fillies, provided they run well in Frizette.
Eibar Coa rides Royal Ballade from post 2. Gemswick Park drew outside post 10, and will have John Velazquez in the saddle.
The Phipps Stable-owned Persistently was runner-up to Doremifasollatido in the Matron (gr.II) last month at Belmont. Persistently, trained by Shug McGaughey, is a closer and with the presence of speed she should get a trip that suits her style.
With the undefeated Jeffrey Puglisi-owned Mani Bhavan running in the Alcibiades (gr.I) at Keeneland Oct. 3, trainer Steve Klesaris and Puglisi will be represented by Sky Diva in the Frizette. Klesaris hopes the same scenario plays out with Sky Diva like it did with Mani Bhavan, who won the Adirondack (gr.II) at Saratoga Aug. 13 in her second start following an impressive maiden win at Delaware Park. Sky Diva enters the Frizette off a 10-length victory in the slop at Delaware Park in a Sept. 9 maiden race.
$400,000 Frizette Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 4:43 p.m.), 2-Year-Old Fillies, 1 Mile (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Sky Diva (KY), 120, Ramon A. Dominguez
2. Royal Ballade (KY), 120, Eibar Coa
3. War Echo (KY), 120, Channing Hill
4. Miss Ocean City (KY), 120, Rajiv Maragh
5. Persistently (KY), 120, Alan Garcia
6. Collegiate (KY), 120, Edgar S. Prado
7. Winning Brew (FL), 120, Jose L. Espinoza
8. Coffee in Bed (MD), 120, Eddie Castro
9. Heavenly Vision (KY), 120, Victor Espinoza
10. Gemswick Park (KY), 120, John R. Velazquez