(Vequist / Coglianese Photo & Courtesy of NYRA)
From the NYRA Media Team:
Vequist proved she could dominate a Grade 1 field when she cruised to a 9 1/2-length score in her stakes debut in the Spinaway on September 6 at Saratoga Race Course. She will look to show similar form on Saturday against a talented field of juvenile fillies in the Grade 1, $250,000 Frizette contested at one mile on Belmont Park’s main track.
The 73rd running of the Frizette will award an automatic spot in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 6 at Keeneland. It also is one of five graded stakes on a stacked 11-race card at Belmont that includes the Grade 1, $250,000 Flower Bowl for fillies 3-years-old and up on the turf that is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier to the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf; the Grade 1, $300,000 Champagne, a Breeders’ Cup qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Grade 2, $150,000 Sands Point for sophomore fillies on the turf. Highlighting the card will be the Grade 1, $250,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup for 3-year-olds and up with a spot in the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic awarded to the victor.
Gary Barber and Adam Wachtel purchased a 75 percent share from Swilcan Stable following Vequist’s runner-up debut effort on July 29 at Parx when she ran a nose behind Niente. In her second start, the Butch Reid trainee was stretched out from 4 ½ furlongs to seven in the Spinaway. Off at 6-1, Vequist tracked in second position and powered home a huge winner, earning an 83 Beyer Speed Figure in picking up a prestigious Grade 1 at the Spa.
Since then, Vequist has continued to train at Parx, including a four-furlong work in 48.62 seconds on Sunday over the main track.
“She has to confirm it; anybody can do it once,” Reid said. “You have to do it a couple of times to really prove you belong at that level. But she jumped from 4 1/2 furlongs to seven-eighths and against Grade 1 company, so it was impressive, and I really liked the way she handled herself. We got up to Saratoga a couple of days ahead of time and she acted really great in the paddock. The way she acted was what impressed me more than anything else. She handled it like a seasoned, old racehorse.”
Vequist, the daughter of 2016 Kentucky Derby-winning Nyquist, will have her first chance at Belmont’s Big Sandy track, drawing the inside post with Luis Saez aboard.
Reid said the one-turn mile could be beneficial and was the difference between going in the Frizette rather than the two-turn Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades which was contested on October 2 at Keeneland.
“Even when she made her debut, it seemed like there was no limit to how far she’ll go,” Reid said. “Her mother [Vero Amore] ran at a mile and an eighth and ran long, and so did Nyquist, so I think the further, the better with her. With two turns the Alcibiades was a pretty good prep for the Breeders’ Cup, but this race fits her perfectly and we know she can handle the one-turn mile, so this seemed like the better way to go.
“Belmont is such a short ship for us, so we’re keeping her comfortable,” Reid continued. “She rides the van very well, so I’m not worried about any of those kind of things.”
Stonestreet Stable’s Cantata also is entered off a dominant victory, when she pulled away by 10 1/4 lengths in a debut effort in a 6 ½-furlong maiden sprint on August 16 at Saratoga. The Medaglia d’Oro filly started training for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen with big expectations after being purchased for $950,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Sale and flashed that potential as she tracked in third position before powering home to the wire as the favorite last out.
Since the win, Cantata recorded four works at Saratoga before shipping to Belmont, where she breezed four furlongs in 50.54 seconds on Sunday over the training track.
“She’s come in and done everything correctly,” said Asmussen assistant Toby Sheets. “She’s quite the individual. We’re looking forward to seeing her step up her game a little bit. She’s a racehorse. She does her job and has it down.”
Joel Rosario will ride from post 2.
Team Hanley’s Joy’s Rocket is already a stakes winner, having crossed the wire first in the My Dear on August 1 on Woodbine’s all-weather track, which built on her debut win on June 28 over a sloppy and sealed Churchill Downs track.
Last out, Joy’s Rocket was switched to turf in the Bolton Landing, where she showed her versatility by running second to Tobys Heart in the 5 1/2-furlong sprint on the grass. Asmussen will move her back to the main track, where she will tackle Big Sandy for the first time, drawing post 4 with Jose Ortiz drawing the assignment for the first time.
“She’s also a filly that hasn’t done anything wrong. She tries every time,” Sheets said. “I think she deserves a chance.”
Besides Vequist, the field’s other graded stakes victor is Dayoutoftheoffice, who will look to go 3-for-3 after a debut victory in May at Gulfstream Park before a six-length triumph in the Grade 3 Schuylerville going six furlongs on July 16 at Saratoga.
Trained by Timothy Hamm, who co-owns the Into Mischief filly with breeder Siena Farm, Dayoutoftheoffice will ship from Thistledown to run at Belmont for the first time, drawing post 5 with Junior Alvarado getting the return assignment following her effort in the Schuylerville.
Reddham Racing’s Get On the Bus will be making her third consecutive graded stakes appearance to start her career, which started with a second to My Girl Red in the Grade 2 Sorrento in August at Del Mar.
She was stretched out from six furlongs to seven next out in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on September 6, where she ran fourth. Trainer Doug O’Neill will now keep her at the highest caliber and see how she responds to a mile.
“She’s doing really well,” O’Neill said. “I’m optimistic we’ll see a strong performance.”
Jose Lezcano will be in the irons from post 6.
Paul Pompa, Jr.’s Fifth Risk, a first-out winner going six furlongs on August 23 at the Spa, will make the step up for trainer Todd Pletcher, breaking from post 7 in tandem with Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
Cilla, making her first start for trainer Bentley Combs after her first three starts for Brett Brinkman, broke her maiden at second asking on August 13 at Delaware Park before running ninth last out in the Sorority on September 7 on the Monmouth Park turf.
Kendrick Carmouche will ride from post 3.
Saturday’s card will feature a 12:20 p.m. Eastern first post. America’s Day at the Races will present daily television coverage of the 27-day fall meet on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete America’s Day at the Races broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.