Quality Response will look to extend her winning West Coast ways into her first graded stakes contest, shipping her 2-for-2 record to New York as part of a seven-horse field in the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette for juvenile fillies on Sunday at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
The 72nd running of the Frizette will offer an all-fees paid berth to the Grade 1, $2 million Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 1 at Santa Anita Park. It also serves as New York's first prep race in the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks,” offering 10 qualifying points to the winner and 4-2-1 points to the second-through-fourth-place finishers for the 2020 Grade 1 contest on May 1 at Churchill Downs.
Sunday's one-turn mile on Big Sandy is one of four 'Win and You're In' qualifiers to the Breeders' Cup in this weekend's stakes-packed Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Racing Festival at Belmont, which on Sunday will also feature the Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl [Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf] and the Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity [Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint].
America's Day at the Races will present live national television coverage from 2-5:30 p.m. Eastern on FS2 with regional coverage airing on MSG Networks from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Quality Response, owned by Karl Watson, Michael Pegram and Paul Weitman, surged onto the scene a 7 ¼-length winner against a 10-horse field in her 5 ½-furlong debut on September 1 at Del Mar. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, the Quality Road filly handled the stretch out in distance to post a 5 ½-length score in her stakes debut next out in the 6 ½-furlong Phone Chatter 18 days later at Los Alamitos.
A $200,000 purchase at the 2018 Keeneland September Sale, Quality Response has won both races on fast tracks and will again be running back less than three weeks from her previous start.
“She's run two good races and she's coming back a little quicker than I'd like to, but she seemed to bounce back and worked nice,” Baffert said. “We're taking a shot in the Frizette in the one-turn mile. We'll see how she fits in with those horses there.”
Baffert said Belmont's sweeping track is a better fit for Quality Response at this stage of her career compared to a two-turn race. In both starts, she stayed just off the early speed before taking command and drawing away.
“She's a really well-bred filly. She doesn't use up her energy,” Baffert said. “You can place her anywhere you want her. She has speed. I'm really excited about her. She ships well and has a really good mind on her.”
Jockey Joe Talamo, aboard for her both of her wins, will travel to New York to retain the mount, drawing post 1.
Frank's Rockette is the field's lone entrant with graded stakes experience, twice finishing second to Perfect Alibi at Saratoga this summer, running a half-length back in the Grade 2 Adirondack at 6 ½ furlongs on August 4 and 1 ¼ lengths back in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Spinaway on September 1.
Owned by Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, the Into Mischief filly won her debut by 8 ¾ lengths on June 21 at Churchill Downs. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Frank's Rockette has continued to train at Saratoga, breezing four furlongs in 48.05 seconds on the Oklahoma turf training track on September 23.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez, a four-time Frizette winner, will pick up the mount, exiting from post 7.
Gold Square and Double O Racing Stable's Daphne Moon, purchased for $525,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sale in April, was a first-out winner on August 4 at the Spa, rallying from last of sixth for a 3 ¼-length win and a 72 Beyer Speed Figure.
The Jeremiah Englehart trainee, by Cairo Prince, has been training at her conditioner's Saratoga base and will make her stakes debut from post 2. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride.
Alex and JoAnn Lieblong's Wicked Whisper, another half-million dollar purchase, was victorious in her debut, wiring a six-horse field by 6 ¼ lengths on August 25 at Saratoga. The $500,000 purchase at the 2018 Keeneland September Sale earned a Frizette field-high 78 Beyer for that win.
Conditioned by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Wicked Whisper trained at Saratoga this summer before shipping to Belmont, where she worked four furlongs in 50.05 on the dirt training track on Sunday. Jockey Joel Rosario will pick up the mount, drawing post 3.
Magic Cap Stables' Slam Dunk is seeking her first win. Trained by Rodolphe Brisset, Slam Dunk rebounded from a fifth-place first start on July 31 at Saratoga to post a second-place finish on the same track next out on September 1. A $450,000 purchase at the 2018 Saratoga Sale, the daughter of Into Mischief will make her first stakes appearance with Kendrick Carmouche in the irons from post 4.
Rounding out the field is New York-bred Ice Princess, a 12-length debut winner on September 6 in a 1 1/16 race at Belmont moved off the turf, for trainer Danny Gargan [post 5, Manny Franco]; and Miss Marissa, who broke her maiden at fourth asking in her last start on September 8 at Belmont for trainer James Ryerson [post 6, Dylan Davis].
The Frizette is slated as Race 9 on Sunday's 10-race card. First post time is 12:45 p.m. Eastern.
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