Nickname joins Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with Frizette win
In the $400,000 Frizette S. (G1) on Saturday at Belmont Park, the Steve Asmussen pupil continued her forward progression with a 3 1/2-length victory under Javier Castellano. Nickname ran the one-turn mile over the sloppy, sealed surface in 1:37.76 and paid $12.80 as the 5-1 third choice in the seven-filly field.
The Frizette is part of both the “Win & You’re In” Challenge series of races offering a guaranteed berth to a corresponding Breeders’ Cup race and the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series awarding points for a spot in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) starting gate next May 6.
Nickname took home both a shot at Breeders’ Cup glory in the Juvenile Fillies (G1) on October 31 at Keeneland as well as joined the Oaks leaderboard with 10 points.
The LNJ Foxwoods colorbearer took up a stalking spot just outside of pacesetter and 9-5 favorite She’s All Ready through three-quarters in :22.78, :46.10 and 1:10.93. Entering the turn, Nemoralia and Width joined her on the inside but couldn’t keep pace as Nickname ranged up to challenge She’s All Ready. Nickname easily put that rival away and drew off to secure her second straight score.
Nickname photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography
Steve Asmussen, winning trainer of Nickname: "Alex Solis and Jason Litt purchased this filly as a yearling. I met with them this winter in Ocala during the sales about the possibility of getting to train for (Larry, Nancy and Jamie Roth). We went out and looked at the two-year-olds that they had.
“When this filly walked out of the barn, it was hard to believe she was one of the two-year-olds. She just had that look and that feel about her from that moment. For things to come together so nice for our stable, the Roths, Alex and Jason – from thinking and looking at her and hoping to being in the position we are today, a Grade 1 winner of a race of the caliber of the Frizette, is wonderful.
“In the paddock, she looked like she ran. (Assistant) Toby (Sheets) has done a wonderful job with her. She's a beautiful mare who just ran a very good race. For her to go from three-quarters (to a mile) I definitely was concerned about the off going, mainly because of how big she is. That's a lot of weight to get through the mud. She looked so good coming into the stretch; very professional. I'm extremely proud of her."
Breeders' Cup? "We're aware of the situation. With the Roths, it's always about the horses first. We'll make sure she's 100 percent. I do know the last time we won the Frizette it was with My Miss Aurelia, who went on and won the Juvenile Fillies."
Javier Castellano, winning jockey aboard Nickname: "I tried to find my best shot, do the best thing for the horse and find the best way to get there. I knew they went pretty quick and then picked it up. I didn't want keep pushing and get caught in the pace. At the same time, I could see those two horses on the outside too (Width and Nemoralia), so I had to move a little bit. She did really well, nice horse."
Joel Rosario, runner-up jockey aboard Nemoralia: "Good trip, perfect trip. I put her in stalking position, that's what we wanted to do. She ran nicely and kicked it in at the end. The horse that won was probably the best today. How the track is, they kind of gallop at one pace. The horse that won was in front of me in a good spot the whole way, but my horse ran great."
James Ryerson, trainer of third-place finisher She's All Ready: "I thought she ran great. She went well in the first going and (then) you wonder how far she wants to go and in (that type of) company, too. Those things enter into it when you think about the race. I would reserve judgment (on entering her into a Breeders' Cup race) but I think it would be a little challenging."