A sloppy, sealed track was no detriment for Jay Em Ess Stable's By The Moon on Saturday at Belmont Park as she pulled off a 2 1/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $500,000 Frizette Stakes under jockey Jose Ortiz.
The Indian Charlie miss was sent off the second longest shot on the board at 24-1, but withstood the late run of 4-5 favorite Condo Commando as well as rallies from impressive maiden winners Wonder Gal and Feathered to finish the one-mile contest in 1:39 2/5.
The Frizette was both a "Win & You're In" contest, giving By the Moon an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Park on November 1, and worth 10 points to the winner toward next year's Kentucky Oaks.
Everyone expected favored Condo Commando, a 13-length winner over By the Moon in the Spinaway last out, to take command as soon as the gates opened on the Frizette. However, the Rudy Rodrigruez pupil slipped and slid in her first few strides over the wet track, giving By the Moon a chance to take command briefly.
Cavorting brought an unbeaten two-for-two mark, including victory in the Adirondack, into the Frizette, and used the rail post to skate her way up along By the Moon's inside. She grabbed the lead through a half-mile in :22 3/5 and :46 while By the Moon settled into a stalking spot to her outside, Feathered and Condo Commando ran in tandem a bit farther back, and Wonder Gal tracked along the inside.
By the Moon began her run rounding the turn and ranged up beside Cavorting momentarily before drawing off at the top of the stretch. Condo Commando also was moving down the center of the track, but just could not catch up with By the Moon. Wonder Gal and Feathered came flying along the inside to get the best of the favorite, but likewise could never reach the winner, who paid $50.50 to her backers.
"I got a perfect trip," Ortiz explained. "I broke perfect, but I didn't want to take the lead so I sat second. By the three-eighths pole, I had a lot of horse but I couldn't wait any longer because I saw (Irad Ortiz Jr.) asking (Cavorting) to go. I just let my filly roll and she went to the lead. Going home I just had to do my job and keep after her."
Wonder Gal was 2 1/4 lengths behind By the Moon, while Feathered finished one-length farther back in third. Condo Commando followed in fourth by a neck while 55-1 longshot Cayman Croc, Ring Knocker and 2-1 second choice Cavorting completed the order under the wire.
"I know she handled the slop at Saratoga wonderfully (in the Spinaway), but I guess it was a different type of mud today," stated Joe Bravo, who piloted Condo Commando. "It was obvious -- the first jump out of the gate, she just stumbled and she fell away from there.
"What I felt was even worse, around the turn, was her action. Before the race, she felt great and I didn't think we could get beat. When it got to the footing on the ground, she wasn't content with it at all.
"It's a shame because in my eyes, she is the best filly in the race."
"It's tough," agreed Condo Commando's trainer, Rudy Rodriguez. "Joe said she didn't like the track. Every track is different. It looked as if she didn't handle the track from the beginning; she stumbled coming out of the gate. We're going to scope her and see if everything is OK and go from there. Even if she had won, I don't think the Breeders' Cup was on the radar for her."
By the Moon took her maiden debut at Saratoga by three parts of a length on July 18, but was no match for Condo Commando in the Spinaway. Ortiz took care of her that day, resulting in a 13-length defeat, but the Michelle Nevin pupil proved best on Saturday to improve her career record to 3-2-1-0, $419,800.
"She's always been extremely smart and very professional," Nevin said. "In her first race she did everything she was expected to do as a racehorse. Even in her second race it wasn't the greatest trip; she had to go a little wide and maybe it was speed biased that day. She still tried to make her run. Today, she just took control.
"It's a tough read," she added about going to the Breeders' Cup with her trainee. "We had an off track. We're going to have to see how we'll handle a (fast( track. It will depend on what the conditions will be out there."
Bred by Samantha Siegel in Kentucky, By the Moon is the first registered stakes winner out of the Malibu Moon mare By the Light, a Grade 1-placed stakes queen who earned nearly $900,000 on track. Her female family includes champion Heavenly Cause.