The China Horse Club's Yellow Agate ground away down the Belmont Park stretch on Saturday to win the Grade 1 Frizette by a head, earning an all fees-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies next month at Santa Anita. The juvenile daughter of Gemologist covered the one-turn mile over the fast main track in 1:35.82 for trainer Christophe Clement, marking the first stakes win for the freshman sire. This is jockey Manny Franco's second career G1 win, coming just one week after his first.
“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 would set the scene down the backstretch, leading by a half-length over Nonna Mela and Colorful Charades through early fractions of :22.86 and :45.69. A slightly rank Sky Gesture was down on the rail in fourth alongside Yellow Agate, while both were less than three lengths off the early leaders. Winding into the turn, Libby's Tail drew her lead out to a full length. Nonna Mela dropped back sharply while Colorful Charades attempted to make up ground on the outside, and Sky Gesture was awaiting room along the inside.
Yellow Agate went three wide around the last part of the turn, and was just over a length behind Libby's Tail at the head of the stretch. Libby's Tail dug in gamely, but Franco kept grinding away aboard Yellow Agate, and the filly was just able to get up and win by a head on the wire in the final stages. Libby's Tail was relegated to second, while Colorful Charades was third. Nonna Mela finished fourth.
“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.”
Bred in Kentucky by Marablue Farm, Yellow Agate was a $70,000 weanling at Keeneland November, who re-sold for $210,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September. The filly won at first asking at Belmont Park, and the Frizette is her second lifetime victory to bring her earnings to over $280,000.
“Where do we go next?” Clement asked. “First, let's enjoy this for a day or two. 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.”
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