10/07/2010 2:57PM

Joyful Victory challenging Pletcher foursome

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Tom Keyser
R Heat Lightning, Garrett Gomez up, wins the Spinaway at Saratoga.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Todd Pletcher may have four of the nine horses entered in Saturday’s Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park, but trainer Tony Dutrow thinks he has the one.

Dutrow will send out Joyful Victory against the Pletcher quartet of R Heat Lightning, Valiant Passion, Tap for Luck, and Maple Forest in the $300,000 Frizette, a one-turn mile race that awards the winner an automatic berth in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

Joyful Victory, a daughter of Tapit, won her debut by a neck over the Pletcher-trained Dance Quietly at Delaware Park on Sept. 11 Breaking from the outside post going two turns in a 12-horse field, Dance Quietly raced four wide down the backside, made a three-wide move entering the far turn, and prevailed after a quarter-mile stretch drive with Dance Quietly.

“We would have been very disappointed if she wouldn’t have run like that,” said Dutrow, who trains Joyful Victory for Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm. “It wasn’t hard to see that she was a good kind of horse, so when we took her over there that day expectations were very high. Expectations are very high again.”

Joyful Victory will break from post 8 under Cornelio Velasquez.

Coming off a victory in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga, R Heat Lightning is the most accomplished of the Pletcher quartet. But she won the Spinaway from the outside post. Saturday, she has to break from the rail under John Velazquez.

Valiant Passion finished third in the Spinaway. She overcame significant trouble to win a maiden race at Saratoga when trained by Ralph Nicks. She had only one workout in between those two starts, in part because she was in the process of being sold and in part because of wet weather.

“I think Ralph did the obvious thing that anyone would do, which is not train too much during that time,” Pletcher said. “So in an ideal scenario, she would have had two good works in between her maiden race and the Spinaway, she only had one. She’s had a better series of works leading up to this.”

Valiant Passion drew the extreme outside under Jose Lezcano.

Tap for Luck won her debut by 2 1/4 lengths, but is stretching out from five furlongs to one mile in the Frizette. Pletcher said he would have preferred to have run Tap for Luck in the Matron, a Grade 2, seven-furlong race that the New York Racing Association did not schedule this year.

“With the Matron not an option we were kind of stuck trying to stretch her out a bit,” Pletcher said. “The next best thing is a one-turn mile.”

Maple Forest finished second in the Sorority after winning her debut at Monmouth gong five furlongs in the slop. Pletcher expects her to be prominent early and is glad that she drew outside of the other speed, Promise Me a Cat, who wheels back 13 days after winning a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 8 1/2 lengths.

A Z Warrior, a daughter of Bernardini trained by Bob Baffert, ships in from Southern California following a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Sorrento and a fifth-place finish in the Grade Darley Debutante, both at Del Mar.

After Later, a debut winner at Monmouth and Coax Liberty, fourth in the Grade 1 Spinaway, round out the field.