12/17/2011 4:36PM

Aqueduct: Former claimer Frazil scores in Gravesend

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Frazil, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, steps up in class to win his third straight race in the Gravesend.

Frazil, a 5-year-old gelding who began his campaign last January running for a $35,000 claiming tag, ended his season by becoming a stakes winner in Saturday’s $61,750 Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct.

One of just four starters following the early scratch of Escrow Kid, who was entered back in Tuesday’s Valley Forge at Parx, and the late scratch of European import Deerslayer, Frazil ($7) was part of a three-way stretch battle with multiple stakes winner This Ones for Phil and Rule by Night, the 3-4 favorite. Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, who has been aboard for six of Frazil’s eight wins this season, the son of The Cliff’s Edge pulled clear of his rivals late to score by three-quarters of a length over late-closing Pretty Boy Freud.

Velasquez said although Frazil is a six-furlong specialist, he’s a versatile sprinter.

“If I ask him, he’ll go wire-to-wire,” Velasquez said. “If the speed goes fast, he’ll stay behind. Today, there wasn’t much pace so I put him right there, and I had a lot of horse.”

Pretty Boy Freud, as the longest shot on the board at 7-1, got second, three-quarters of a length in front of This Ones for Phil, making his first start since early October. Rule by Night, favored on the basis of his win two starts ago in the Duck Dance and a fourth-place finish last time out in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler, faded to last, three-quarters of a length behind This Ones for Phil.

Frazil, owned and trained by Linda Rice, had been mainly running in starter allowance races all season. He came into the Gravesend following back-to-back wins against $10,000 starter allowance foes while carrying 126 pounds and 122 pounds. He toted a season-low 115 pounds in the Gravesend.

“I was really proud of him,” Rice said. “Obviously, he’d been carrying so much weight for so long, the 115 helped him. Today, everything went perfectly. I’ve trained him since he was a 2-year-old. He was a big, clumsy young horse. He’s a very big horse, about 17 hands, and we gave him a chance to find his way.”