December 6, 2021

Echo Zulu looks to stay perfect in Frizette; Pilgrim, Waya spice up undercard

Echo Zulu wins the Spinaway Stakes (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Both a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and a points race toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1), the $400,000 Frizette (G1) anchors a trio of graded stakes at Belmont Park on Sunday. The two supporting features are on turf – the $200,000 Pilgrim (G2) for juveniles and the $300,000 Waya (G3) for distaffers.

Frizette (G1) – Race 9 (5:16 p.m. ET)

Unbeaten Spinaway (G1) heroine Echo Zulu will try to stay perfect while stepping up to a one-turn mile. The winner of her two Saratoga outings by a combined margin of 9 1/2 lengths, the Steve Asmussen pupil has shown the high speed of her sire, Gun Runner. She’s drawn right in the middle of the nine-filly field in post 5.

Three of her rivals were smart maiden winners at the Spa. Jester Calls Nojoy, runner-up as the favorite in her debut for Todd Pletcher, was a different proposition next time, and the odds-on choice crushed her opposition by 10 lengths. The Chad Brown-trained Gerrymander likewise graduated in her second try, but as a 10-1 shot, and now takes a bigger jump from six furlongs. Magic Circle sprang a 25-1 surprise as a Rudy Rodriguez firster.

Pletcher’s other entrant, A Mo Reay, comes off a fine third to Gerrymander in her Saratoga debut. Charging from far off the pace, she missed by all of a half-length, and figures to appreciate the added ground. Saucy Lady T closed for third in each of the Spa’s features in the division, the Schuylerville (G3), Adirondack (G2), and Spinaway.

Monmouth shipper Jumeirah is the lone contender with experience at the distance. The Carlos David trainee followed up her sprint maiden romp with a second in the Sorority S. over two turns. Hot Fudge wheels back from a Sept. 18 Belmont maiden score, and Frosty Brew opened her account at Laurel for Shug McGaughey.

Pilgrim (G2) – Race 4 (2:36 p.m. ET)

The 1 1/16-mile inner turf affair is not a Breeders’ Cup Challenge event, but it has been a useful stepping stone for the Juvenile Turf (G1). Annapolis, a smashing first-out winner at Saratoga for Pletcher, tackles the respective second and third from the With Anticipation (G3), Portfolio Company and Limited Liability.

Both Portfolio Company and Limited Liability have reason to do better here. Beyond the likely more honest pace scenario, each is sporting new equipment. Brown changed the bit on Portfolio Company after he was rank last time, and McGaughey is adding blinkers to Limited Liability to keep him from dropping too far back.

Pace figures to come from a pair of sprint maiden winners making their turf debut. Doctor Jeff wired an off-the-turf maiden here, but retreated to fifth as the favorite in the Saratoga Special (G2). Pletcher’s Midnight Worker switches surfaces after a tiring third in the Sapling S.

Not to be discounted is City at Night from the Mike Maker barn. The half-brother to $2 million-earner Twilight Eclipse finished second in his unveiling at Kentucky Downs and could move forward on a more typical course.

(Update: City at Night ran instead in the Laurel Futurity on Saturday and finished a non-threatening sixth as the 7-5 favorite.)

Waya (G3) – Race 8 (4:44 p.m. ET)

Defending champion My Sister Nat captured last summer’s Waya at its original home of Saratoga. Now that it’s swapped spots with the Flower Bowl (G1), the Waya has been transferred to this venue and trimmed to 1 3/8 miles.

My Sister Nat has placed in the past two editions of the Flower Bowl. The Brown mare missed by a head in the 2020 running, the closest she’s come to winning at Belmont so far, and she checked in third in the Sept. 4 version at Saratoga to division leader War Like Goddess. A frequent bridesmaid, My Sister Nat has also settled for minors in both the New York (G2) and Glens Falls (G2) for the last two years.

Two of her opponents are coming off subpar efforts in the Aug. 7 Glens Falls, fellow Brown trainee Orglandes (sixth) and the Christophe Clement-trained Call Me Love (last of seven). Orglandes scored her signature win in last fall’s Red Carpet H. (G3). Call Me Love, a Group 2-winning highweight in Italy, took two straight at Belmont over the summer, notably the River Memories S.

Clement is himself double-handed with Beautiful Lover, a former Brown runner. Switched after selling to Moyglare Stud Farm for $650,000 as part of the Paul Pompa Dispersal at Keeneland January, Beautiful Lover was last seen landing a June 27 Belmont allowance. She makes her first start beyond nine furlongs here.

Repole Stable’s homebred Always Shopping returns to the kind of trip that brought out the best in her earlier this campaign. The La Prevoyante (G3) winner missed by a nose to War Like Goddess in the Orchid (G3) and placed third in the Sheepshead Bay (G2), but lost her way when shortening up.

Lovely Lucky was fourth in the Flower Bowl, and Sister Otoole has dark horse potential in her stakes debut. Trained by Graham Motion, Sister Otoole was runner-up in a Saratoga allowance to La Dragontea, the next-out winner of the Canadian (G2).