MISS GRILLO STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 2-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 3 | 1 1 /16 MILES (INNER TURF)
Not long after Noble Tune demolished the field in Monday's Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont Park, fellow Chad Brown trainee Watsdachances rallied boldly between foes to capture the companion race for fillies, the Grade 3, $150,000 Miss Grillo Stakes, to complete a double for the barn. Like her stablemate, Watsdachances justified 6-5 favoritism, and earned an automatic Breeders' Cup berth -- in her case, to the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
"I'm very proud of these two," Brown said. "You know, you spend a lot of time training them in the mornings, observing them, and trying to make sure we've set up the training schedules, doing the right thing, and it's rewarding when they go out there and do it in the afternoon. They're two nice horses and we're very lucky to have them in the barn."
Patiently handled by Javier Castellano, Watsdachances was held up well off the early pace. Up front, Manuka Honey established a comfortable lead through splits of :24 3/5, :49 3/5 and 1:14 3/5 on the yielding inner turf. The pacesetter continued to travel strongly into the stretch, threatening to spring a 25-1 upset.
But Watsdachances, who had begun to improve her position turning for home, suddenly kicked into gear. Bursting through a seam in deep stretch, the Irish-bred finished with a flourish to score by 2 1/4 lengths.
Watsdachances slogged through 1 1/16 miles in 1:47 4/5 to remain perfect from two U.S. starts, having accounted for the P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga in her American bow. Her Miss Grillo win provided $4.40, $2.90 and $2.60 to her backers.
"She's amazing," Castellano said. "She's a pretty tiny horse, pretty short and small, she runs with her head down, but she has real heart. She split horses, she went through a little tight hole and she took off. I know the pace kind of helped my filly; I feel they went quick enough and my horse sat behind the midpack. Turning for home I had to [decide] which way to go and I decided to wait. Turning for home she split horses and did it the right way."
"This filly was very professional -- ran super," Brown said. "Javier gave her a terrific ride. To be that patient and wait for a seam on the inside -- Javier made a big difference today. He rode her with a lot of confidence and made good decisions out there."
Sustained made good late progress to take runner-up honors by a length from Manuka Honey, who did well to finish a clear third. Fly Again checked in fourth, followed by Wave Theory, Three Hearts, Buckingham Bull, Atlantic Dream, Effie Trinket and Adriani. Fearless Jacq and Summer of Fun were withdrawn.
Bred by P.G. Lyons in the Emerald Isle, Watsdachances was led out unsold at the 2010 Goffs November Foal Sale, with no RNA price listed. Despite that kind of beginning to her public life, she flashed ability in her two starts for trainer Ger Lyons. Watsdachances finished third in her April 7 debut at Cork, beating Aidan O'Brien's smart filly Infanta Branca. Next time out at Navan on April 29, Watsdachances romped by six lengths from subsequent Group 1-placed Lottie Dod.
"Peter Bradley found this filly in Europe and was adamant about buying her," Brown said. "He put a group together including Michael Kisber and some of the other partners. They all put a lot of work into it, too, trying to find these horses, and they found a real good one here."
Watsdachances made her first start for Kisber and Bradley Thoroughbred Partners in the August 29 P.G. Johnson at the Spa, where she shrugged off a bump to get up by a neck. She has now bankrolled $164,588.
By the Green Desert stallion Diamond Green, Watsdachances is out of the winning Entrepreneur mare High Finance, who is in turn a half-sister to Group 3 victress Reunion. She hails from the family of several Southern Hemisphere stakes performers, including three-time South African champion sprinter Taban, New Zealand classic winner Planet Rock as well as the Australian pair of Galroof and her son Sabrage, both Group 3 winners who were also Group 1-placed.