FRIZETTE STAKES | PURSE: $400,000 | 2-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 1 | 1 MILE
Heavily favored Dreaming of Julia showed the poise of a much older horse while winning an exciting Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park in New York Oct. 6. The 2-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy remained calm in the wake of starting gate incident that caused a long delay and resulted in two of her rivals being scratched. Then she had to battle the tenacious My Happy Face through the stretch to notch her first graded win by a head and remain undefeated in three career races.
The $400,000 Frizette had a scheduled post of 4:02 p.m. (EDT), but Roveing Patrol became upset in the starting gate and was scratched and so was Sweet Shirley Mae.
With its field reduced to four runners (Carameaway had been scratched earlier), the race went off 13 minutes late. My Happy Face, who had won her two previous career races, charged to the lead and Dreaming of Julia stalked her determinedly from the outside. They pulled away from the rest of the field as My Happy Face set fractions of :23.22 for the first quarter mile and :46.19 for the half. By the top of the stretch, Dreaming of Julia had gained a small advantage.
But My Happy Face and her jockey, Ramon Dominguez, didn't give up. They fought back and challenged Dreaming of Julia and her Hall of Fame rider, John Velazquez, with every stride. At the wire, Dreaming of Julia was barely in front as she completed the mile over fast track in 1:37.10 on a cloudy afternoon.
Trailing 10 3/4 lengths behind was Toasting, who hit the gate at the start and finished third. Nancy O was eased.
"We knew the filly that finished second [My Happy Face] was very talented," said Dreaming of Julia's multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer, Todd Pletcher. "You're talking about two fillies that had won their last couple of races by a long way. They were running into a headwind down the backside and the fractions were pretty fast. With the track starting to dry out a little bit and with the long wait [at the starting gate], it was demanding. I think with the scratches, on paper, it turned into a virtual match race. Most match races, the speed horse has the edge, so we had to kind of take it to her [My Happy Face] a little bit."
A Stonestreet Stables homebred, Dreaming of Julia made her career debut in August, romping to a 10 1/2-length victory in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race at Saratoga Race Course. In her last outing prior to the Frizette, she triumphed by 16 1/2 lengths in the Meadow Star Stakes at a mile at Belmont Sept. 9.
"Not as easy as the last two, not at all," said Velazquez of Dreaming of Julia's Frizette effort. "The other filly [My Happy Face] is a nice filly; she won [her last race prior to the Frizette] by 21 [1/4] lengths. I had to put pressure on her the whole way around to make it a match race and it ended up being a match race, anyway. But she's gutsy, that's what she is. The scratches changed the race; it went from being a lot of speed to me having to do the dirty job and not let [My Happy Face] get away."
Dominguez was pleased with My Happy Face's performance.
"She ran hard, just a head short from winning, but she did everything right," the jockey said.
Bred in Kentucky, Dreaming of Julia is out of the Grade 1-winning Wild Rush mare Dream Rush. The bay juvenile has earned $339,000 and Pletcher said she would head next to the Breeders' Cup World Championships in November at Santa Anita Park if she comes out of the Frizette in good shape.
Dreaming of Julia paid her Frizette backers $2.30 and $2.10. My Happy Face, the second betting choice, returned $2.20.