The Jamaica, the Frizette, and the Champagne

It’s the mid-week doldrums in fall racing in NY. Keeneland opens on Friday with a host of stakes races through the weekend, and NY horses and jockeys will be heading west; later in the week we’ll take a look at the NY invaders.

For now, we’ll take a quick look at the stakes races at Belmont on Saturday. The Frizette is a mile on the dirt for two-year-old fillies, another grand old New York race, run for the first time in 1945. Sutra won it last year, and I have to say that I have only vague memories of her…anyone know where she is and what she’s doing? I feel like I should know the answer to that… Heading back over the last five years, the names are a little more familiar: Adieu, Balletto, Society Selection (love that filly), Storm Flag Flying, and You. The Blood-Horse reports that Kiaran McLaughlin’s Armonk will be entered; she was a decent second in The Matron a few weeks ago, and a troubled third at Saratoga in her maiden race; she broke in the air and had a lot of ground to make up. Entries will be drawn tomorrow, but among the nominees are a number of horses we know won’t be running: Irish Smoke (running in Alcibiades at Keeneland); Sherine (who ran at Belmont last weekend); and A to the Croft (see Irish Smoke), who was second to Irish Smoke in the Spinaway at Saratoga. The Frizette is named for a two-year-old filly who won the Rosedale Stakes at Jamaica Racetrack in 1907.

The Champagne is the colts’ version of the Frizette: for two-year-olds, a mile on the dirt. It’s the oldest stakes race for two-year-olds in the country, first run in 1867, and has an impressive history; click on the link to read more, including a comprehensive list of winners of this race. Some notables: Count Fleet (1942); Buckpasser (1965); Forty Niner (1987); Easy Goer (1988); Sea Hero (1992); Birdstone (2003); and Scat Daddy last year. Majestic Warrior, winner of the Hopeful, is expected to run, as is War Pass.

The Grade II Jamaica Handicap, nine furlongs on the grass for three-year-olds, will also be run on Saturday, and Nobiz Like Shobiz is a likely runner. The race is named for an area in the borough of Queens that was once home to Jamaica Racetrack, which closed in 1959. Showing Up won the race last year; Watchmon in 2005; and Artie Schiller in 2004. Among this year’s entries are Red Giant and Shamdinan, winner of this year’s Secretariat at Arlington Park.

Thursday night is opening night at the Garden–let’s go Rangers!

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