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A Z Warrior Draws Clear in Frizette

A Z Warrior took to conventional dirt in style, contesting the pace and drawing clear in the stretch to win the Grade 1, $300,000 Frizette by 1 ¾ lengths on Saturday at Belmont Park.


Seeking an automatic berth in the November 5 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, A Z Warrior led briefly before ceding the front end to longshot Coax Liberty, who set brisk fractions of 22.87 and 46.25. A Z Warrior took over when the pacesetter gave way midway on the turn, then opened on her rivals nearing the eighth pole, with R Heat Lightning giving vain chase to finish second following a troubled trip.


“I knew the fractions weren’t real fast, but she was very comfortable and relaxed in my hands,” said winning jockey Alan Garcia. “Turning for home, she really took off, but towards the end I said, ‘We don’t want to use her up for this one.’ We wanted her to come back safe and sound and take the next step.”


Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert for owner/breeder Zayat Stables, A Z Warrior covered one mile in 1:35.68 and returned $9.80 for a $2 win wager as the 7-2 third choice.


A Z Warrior entered the Frizette off three starts over artificial surfaces in Southern California, including a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Sorrento at Del Mar on August 6 and a fifth in that venue’s Grade 1 Darley Debutante on September 4.


“We leave these decisions up to Mr. Baffert, but he’s been saying all along that she’s a dirt filly,” said Brad Weisbord, finance and racing manager for Zayat Stables. “We think this filly is special and we look forward to running her in the Breeders’ Cup.”


Todd Pletcher, who trains R Heat Lightning and additional Frizette starters Valiant Passion, Tap for Luck, and Maple Forest, said he was pleased with the favorite’s performance, despite her misadventures.


“[R Heat Lightning] took a left turn leaving the gate and was actually inside the gap by the chute,” said Pletcher. “She recovered and put herself in a decent position but she was just sort of boxed in. The winner [A Z Warrior] snuck away from her, but we were gaining on the end and galloped out past her. We just couldn’t find room as early as we needed it.”


Joyful Victory finished 5 ¼ lengths behind the winner in third, with Valiant Passion, Tap for Luck, Coax Liberty, Maple Forest, and After Later completing the order of finish. Promise Me a Cat was scratched.




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