Vequist didn’t bother with a slow procession up the class ladder as the usual baby steps just wouldn’t work for the juvenile daughter of a Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup champion.
The daughter of Nyquist did this whole maiden-breaking thing backward. She finished second in her first race – a routine maiden special weight race at Parx. Then, Vequist went out and took apart the field in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga.
Now, the question remains: can Vequist validate that maiden-breaking victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park? The mile-long Frizette is one of four Grade 1s and five graded stakes races on Belmont Park’s 11-race card on Saturday. It also comes with a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” ticket to the $2 million Juvenile Fillies.
That’s enough of a carrot for Vequist, who leaves from the Belmont Park rail as the Frizette’s 2/1 second favorite. Her father won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a 9/2 afterthought. He came back six months later and won the Kentucky Derby, becoming only the second Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner to validate that crown in the Derby.
Spinning Away From the Pack
Vequist’s connections would like to take a strong finish in the Frizette and parlay that into a repeat outing in the Breeders’ Cup. They would also take a repeat of her Spinaway outing a month ago at Saratoga.
The Spinaway marked not only Vequist’s second career race, but her first graded stakes. Trainer Butch Reid and new owners Gary Barber and Adam Wachtel carried no compunctions throwing Vequist into the deep end of the class pool.
They did this for a couple of reasons. First, Vequist lost her late July debut at Parx by a nose to Niente. That debut went only 4 ½ furlongs, a getting-the-feet-wet dip that Reid knew was a stepping stone to bigger things.
This Filly Enjoyed Her Spa Outing
Second, Reid really liked what he saw when he took Vequist to The Spa.
“We got up to Saratoga a couple of days ahead of time and she acted really great in the paddock,” Reid told the New York Racing Association’s Ryan Martin. “The way she acted was what impressed me more than anything else. She handled it like a seasoned, old racehorse.”
Which is exactly how she handled her Spinaway foes. Stretching out to seven furlongs, Vequist went off at 6/1 and ran a textbook race, stalking the leaders, then pulling away down the stretch for a 9 ½-length victory. Vequist rolled up an 83 Beyer Speed Figure that demonstrated the ceiling has room to grow.
The Frizette Fits Vequist’s Development
“She has to confirm it. Anyone can do it once,” Reid said. “You have to do it a couple times to really prove you belong at that level. But she jumped from 4 ½ furlongs to seven-eighths and against Grade 1 company, so it was impressive. I really liked the way she handled herself.”
Vequist makes her first Belmont Park trip with Luis Saez in the irons. Reid said the one-turn mile and quick van ride from her Parx base in Pennsylvania to Big Sandy fits Vequist’s developmental program perfectly. This is why Reid opted for the Frizette instead of last weekend’s two-turn Alciabiades at Keeneland.
“Even when she made her debut, it seemed like there was no limit to how far she’ll go,” Reid said. “Her mother (Vero Amore) ran at a mile and an eighth and ran long, and so did Nyquist, so I think the further the better with her.”