Two new shooters have entered the picture for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), and neither came out of the Frizette Stakes (gr. I), the division's big race during the Oct. 6-7 weekend. The first newcomer is Bella Bellucci, winner of the Astarita Stakes (gr. II) on Oct. 8. That was her first stakes win, but the French Deputy filly already had a number of followers after her impressive maiden win at Belmont Park on Sept. 9. The other new player is Take Charge Lady, who ran her record to 3-for-3 with a one-length victory in the Walmac International Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland on Oct. 5.
In addition to those impressive winners there was You, the Robert Frankel-trained daughter of You and I who easily defeated Cashier's Dream in the Frizette, drawing off in the stretch by 6 1/4 lengths. The win was You's third in four career starts, and it apparently was enough to convince the owners of Cashier's Dream not to spent $90,000 to supplement their filly to the Juvenile Fillies.
Bella Bellucci, trained by Neil Drysdale for Michael Tabor, won her six-furlong debut by 5 3/4 lengths with a last-to-first move under jockey Mike Smith. The gray filly employed similar tactics against three opponents in the Astarita, coming from the back of the small field with a strong, sustained run that carried her to a half-length win over Forest Heiress, who jumped to an easy lead and set fractions of :23:.03, :46.16, and 1:10.37. Bella Bellucci, a long-striding gray, completed the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.67. Gary Stevens, taking over from Smith, used the whip several times down the lane before putting it away and hand-riding the filly to the wire in the final yards.
Forest Heiress is no slouch, having won three straight at Monmouth Park, including the Sorority Stakes (gr. III) by 3 1/4 lengths on Sept. 1. She was not an easy target for Bella Bellucci to run down.
"For Bella Bellucci, as inexperienced as she was, to be able to pick her up and run her down was an excellent effort," said Drysdale. "She galloped out very well; I like to see that. The way she galloped out, I don't think the extra distance will be a problem, so we're looking at the Breeders' Cup (Juvenile Fillies)."
"The filly we beat is a quality horse that got away with soft fractions," Stevens said. "I'm glad this was a hard race on my horse. I was afraid it would be a walk in the park and she would go untested into the Breeders' Cup. She really showed what she is about today."
Forest Heiress, meanwhile, will likely pass on the Breeders' Cup.
"She ran hard, was able to get the lead and the filly that beat her is a nice filly," said trainer Ben Perkins Jr. of Forest Heiress. "The other filly ranged up to her pretty early, so I knew she would have to gut it out. It was a tough race, and the winner looks like she can be a real nice horse. We haven't been planning on the Breeders' Cup. She's been running short, and she's so fast that we'll probably keep her short."
Bella Bellucci was the second-highest-priced juvenile sold at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of 2-year-olds in training at Calder in February, fetching $925,000. She was purchased for just $100,000 last August at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga sale by J.J. Crupi's New Castle Farm for Standardbred breeder Joseph Parisi.
Take Charge Lady was a $175,000 yearling purchase at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's July sale last year. She races for Select Stable. The daughter of Dehere won wire to wire at first asking during Keeneland's spring meeting, going 4 1/2 furlongs in :51.93. Away for 4 1/2 months, the Ken McPeek-trained bay won on the front end again going a mile at Turfway Park, taking an allowance race by three-quarters of a length on Sept. 8. In the Alcibiades, she sat just off the early pace, then took command after six furlongs and drew off by a length over pacesetter Never Out. Final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:46.23 after fractions of :22.64, :47.37, and 1:12.65.
"This filly, she's just class top to bottom," said McPeek. "She's very, very, very special. I'm just trying to keep from messing her up."
You showed her class in winning the Frizette by 6 1/4 lengths over Cashier's Dream, who was coming off a daylight victory in the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I). It was You's second triumph in a row over Cashier's Dream, whom she'd edged by a neck in the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II), contested prior to the Spinaway.
In the Frizette, You tracked Cashier's Dream from the outset and put her away easily at the top of the stretch to win easily under Edgar Prado. With the victory, You is now the likely favorite in the Juvenile Fillies ahead of the Bob Baffert-trained Habibti, who is unbeaten in two starts, including the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I). However, Habibti, a daughter of Tabasco Cat racing for The Thoroughbred Corp. (which also owns Juvenile, gr. I, favorite Officer), was forced to miss the Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita in late September and will have to prepare for the Breeders' Cup off works alone.
As for Cashier's Dream, Barry Irwin, the head of co-owner Team Valor, was quoted as saying he would like to keep Cashier's Dream in races of a mile or less. She received a strange ride in the Frizette from jockey Donnie Meche, who at first took a very strong hold of the filly down the backstretch, then allowed her to speed through quick fractions of :46.08 and 1:10.88 before tiring.