Belmont’s Fall Championship Meet is one of racing’s biggest stages, and over the past decade, horses with connections to Lane’s End have shone. ENGLISH CHANNEL, MINESHAFT, CURLIN and others all won major Grade 1s there during respective championship seasons, and on Saturday, two more horses put themselves in line for year-end honors.
The 2-year-old filly My Miss Aurelia, by SMART STRIKE, defeated a contentious field by 5 1/2 lengths in the GI Frizette S. The Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton-owned filly debuted at winner in Saratoga in July and quickly added the G2 Adirondack S. in August, and was looking to remain perfect in the one-mile Frizette. Put right on the lead, she carved out :22.64 and :46.02 splits and drew off with something left under hot jock Corey Nakatani, stopping the clock in 1:35 1/5. “She actually would have gone faster if I let her,” said the rider. “You’re basically just harnessing her energy and her power until the stretch, then you let her level out and do what she’s got to do to win the race.” My Miss Aurelia will be the likely favorite in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
SMART STRIKE is also the sire of Saturday’s G1 First Lady S. heroine Never Retreat, who earned a well-deserved top-level success at Keeneland. Never Retreat entered the race with no fewer than four graded wins in 2011, and was flying late to push her career earnings to over $1.2 million. Also at Keeneland Saturday, CANDY RIDE (ARG)’s multiple Grade 1-winning son Sidney’s Candy finished third in the G1 Shadwell Turf Mile S., while CITY ZIP’s Majestic City and ENGLISH CHANNEL’s Optimizer ran 2-3 in the G1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity. In New York, LEMON DROP KID’s GSW Wilkinson finished third in the G1 Jamaica H. Congratulations to the connections of these horses!
On the same card at Belmont, Phyllis Wyeth’s Union Rags, by the late DIXIE UNION, put himself atop the East Coast juvenile colts with a dynamic victory in the G1 Champagne S. Coming off a win in the G2 Saratoga Special S., favored Union Rags patiently awaited room racing behind foes in the Champagne, then burst through decisively en route to a 5 1/4-length tally. The final time for the one-mile race was a snappy 1:35 2/5. The Michael Matz-trained colt now heads to Churchill as the probable favorite for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.