- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
Artemis Agrotera captures Frizette
Artemis Agrotera broke her maiden by a romping 11 lengths at Saratoga in her August 16 career debut and continued to prove her superiority with a 1 1/4-length victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Frizette at Belmont Park.
Jockey Jose Lezcano guided Artemis Agrotera into a stalking position just outside of Tea Time through splits of :23 1/5, :47 2/5 and 1:11 4/5. Meanwhile, Alex Solis and 3-4 favorite Sweet Reason were trying to make up some ground after badly veering in when the gates opened. That juvenile miss found herself running widest of all heading into the turn, but managed to scoot over a bit to the inside as others began dropping back.
Artemis Agrotera drew even with Tea Time rounding the turn and easily passed her tiring rival to take command in the lane. The Mike Hushion-trained filly found a new challenge in Sweet Reason on her outside, but it turned out to not be such a challenge after all as Artemis Agrotera maintained her momentum and led all the way to the wire.
As both a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and a points contest for next May's Kentucky Oaks, the Frizette has Artemis Agrotera sitting pretty in her division.
"She broke good, put herself in position, and when I asked her, she took off and won the race," Lezcano remarked. "She acted very, very professional today. She did everything right in the gate and in the race, and did the job."
"I said (to Lezcano), 'Be careful she just doesn't run off the first part of it.' If he tapped her once on the shoulder, she'd be gone, and he didn't," Hushion said. "I saw (Sweet Reason) coming, but watching as many races as I have over this track, I knew at the sixteenth-pole (Sweet Reason) had her work cut out for her and we were in good position."
As for Artemis Agrotera going in the Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita, Hushio added, "I hope so. We'll see what the next few days bring. Hopefully, everything will be a 'go.'"
Artemis Agrotera returned $10.60 as the 4-1 third pick in the seven-filly field and has now banked $342,000 in career earnings to go with her perfect two-for-two mark. Sweet Reason took second by 2 3/4 lengths over Stopchargingmaria, while Divided Attention came running for fourth. Ria Antonia, Tea Time and Recepta completed the order of finish.
"She just ducked in (at the start). She's never done that before. It's just one of those things. It's one of those things that babies do," Solis said philosophically about Sweet Reason's start.
"It was a remarkable race," stated the filly's trainer, Leah Gyarmati. "Obviously, she didn't get a very good start. (Solis) just said she ducked over to the inside (at the start). I thought when I was watching it that she wasn't standing good, and her head looked like it was in the air and she was turned sideways. He said she was standing square, but when the doors opened she ducked to the inside. I'll have to watch it again.
"She's already a horse that's going to be back a little bit, so it cost us probably five, six lengths. She proved she could handle a fast track, she was six wide, and she spotted the field several lengths at the start, so I'm very impressed with her.
"I would think so," Gyarmati confirmed when asked if Sweet Reason was headed to the Breeders' Cup. "Obviously, we'll have to see how she is and make sure she's OK. She certainly proved that she could overcome a lot of adversity, plus she can handle a fast track, which is what everybody's question was."
Artemis Agrotera, a New York homebred of Mary and Chester Broman Sr., is by Roman Ruler and out of multiple Grade 2-placed stakes winner Indy Glory. That A.P. Indy mare has also produced the stakes-placed Fusaichi Pegasus duo of Time Squared and Submerge.
Artemis Agrotera's second dam is Grade 1-placed Immerse, who is responsible for Grade 1-winning sire Stephen Got Even. This is the same female family as multiple Group 1 hero Xtension as well as champion and sire Lord Avie.