China Horse Club's Yellow Agate improved to two-for-two in her career, as the daughter of freshman sire Gemologist entered Saturday's one-mile test for 2-year-old fillies off a half-length score in a six-furlong maiden special weight race Sept. 11 at Belmont. Yellow Agate, who completed the mile in 1:35.82, is the first stakes winner for Gemologist.
With Manny Franco showing the way, Yellow Agate rated fifth of six fillies early as Libby's Tail and Irad Ortiz Jr. led through a quarter-mile in :22.86 and a half-mile in :45.69 while pursued by longshot Colorful Charades and Nonna Mela. Yellow Agate, sent off at 6-5, rallied in the turn and was the only horse with a shot at the front-runner as they reached the early stretch.
Trained by Christophe Clement, Yellow Agate tracked through the stretch before a final surge inside the sixteenth pole lifted her to win by a head. Franco secured his second career grade I win and second this month as he guided Joking to victory in the Vosburgh Stakes Oct. 1 at Belmont.
"I think today was a major jump going from a maiden win to a grade 1 win," Clement said. "She's always been nice from the beginning but It was a great ride by Manny. He never panicked and came from off the pace. The filly was comfortable, he waited and took her wide giving her a chance. She then went to take on that horse on the lead. I think it was a very mature ride from Manny."
Libby's Tail was 9 1/4 lengths ahead of Colorful Charades in third. Yellow Agate paid $4.70, $3.20, and $2.40 across the board while Libby's Tail returned $5.40 and $4.10. Colorful Charades returned $4.40 to show.
Franco said he felt blessed on winning a second grade I this month. He said he wanted to allow Yellow Agate to settle early and said she made her late move when she changed leads.
"I wanted her to break good and I wanted to settle her down, because I knew she was going from short to long today," Franco said. "I just wanted her to relax and be comfortable and I made my move at the right time. At the quarter pole, she didn't switch leads, so I worked on her and she gave me that second reaction."
China Horse Club went to $210,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale to land Yellow Agate. She was consigned by Hunter Valley Farm.
Bred in Kentucky by Marablue Farm, Yellow Agate is out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Lemon Sorbet.
The Frizette is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race to the 14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). Clement has not decided on making the trip to Santa Anita Park.
"Where do we go next? First, let's enjoy this for a day or two," Clement said. "I'm aware of the Breeders' Cup. I'm also aware of other things. I'll have to speak to my owner about the next step but let's just see how she comes out of this race and go from there."