Into Mischief and Tiz Wonderful both got their first graded stakes-placed runners Saturday at Belmont Park as Goldencents ran second in the Grade 1 Champagne S., and My Happy Face was beaten just a nose in the Grade 1 Frizette S.
Both young stallions are in the top 12 on the North America Freshman sire list, with yesterday's runners their leading earners this year.
Into Mischief's Goldencents battled most of the entire mile distance of the $400,000 Champagne before eventual winner Shanghai Bobby pulled away in the last furlong. Goldencents held on for a clear second and earned $80,000, upping his total to $122,000 for owners W. C. Racing, Dave Kenney and RAP Racing.
Goldencents broke his maiden first time out at Del Mar, earning a 93 Beyer Speed Figure for the 7 1/4-length win. Trained by Doug O'Neill, the bay colt was purchased for $62,000 by the trainer's brother Dennis at the OBS Horses of Racing Age sale in June.
In the $400,000 Frizette, Tiz Wonderful's My Happy Face had the unenviable task of taking on 1-9 favorite Dreaming of Julia. With the Frizette field reduced to four when Carameaway was withdrawn early and Roeving Patrol and Sweet Shirley Mae were scratched at the gate, Dreaming of Julia and My Happy Face wound up in a match race right from the outset.
With fast early fractions of 23.22 and 46.19, the pair was some ten lengths clear of the two trailers. My Happy Face was pinned on the inside of her foe, and as they turned into the homestretch, Dreaming of Julia appeared poised to pull away. But My Happy Face came right back, and in very tight quarters battled furiously. The duo exchanged head bobs to the wire, with the big favorite barely hanging on. It was 10 3/4-lengths back to the third-place finisher.
Afterward, even the winning connections showed great admiration for My Happy Face.
“My Happy Face is a nice filly, she won [her last race] by 21 lengths,” said winning jockey John Velazquez. “I had to put pressure on her the whole way around to make it a match race and it ended up being a match race, anyway.”
“We knew that the filly that finished second [My Happy Face] was very talented,” said Pletcher. “You’re talking about two fillies that have won their last couple of races by a long way. They were running into a headwind down the backside and it was pretty fast fractions. With the track starting to dry out a little bit and with the long wait [at the starting gate], it was demanding.”
My Happy Face is owned by Michael Dubb and trained by Rudy Rodriguez. She was bred in partnership by Spendthrift Farm and Shawan Place and is the second foal out of the stakes-winning mare Summer Star.