10/08/2016 2:35PM

Yellow Agate up in time in Frizette Stakes

Michael Amoruso
Yellow Agate, ridden by Manny Franco, wins the Frizette Stakes by a head Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Yellow Agate claimed the fifth and final Win and You're In berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Saturday, but she needed the entire length of the Belmont Park stretch to wrench it away from Libby's Tail, who led for all but the final jump or two of the one-mile Frizette Stakes.

Yellow Agate was making only her second career start for trainer Christophe Clement in the Grade 1 Frizette. She had closed from far back to win a Belmont maiden race on Sept. 11. She turned in a more complete performance in the $400,000 Frizette, staying more in touch with the field early and starting her bid on the far turn rather than in the stretch.

"It is very hard to make the jump from a maiden race to a Grade 1," Clement said. "She was very green in her debut. I twice worked her behind horses. I wanted to make sure she would not be rank."

Clement would not commit to the Breeders' Cup immediately following the race, saying he would first talk with his owner.

Yellow Agate was ridden by 21-year-old Manny Franco, who won the first Grade 1 of his career a week ago aboard Joking in the Vosburgh.

"Manny gave her a very mature ride," Clement said.

Libby's Tail, who had come from off the pace in her first two starts, surprisingly went to the lead for trainer Rudy Rodriguez. She set fractions of 22.86 seconds, 45.69, and 1:10.75, then dug in gamely in the stretch, only to be beaten a head on the wire.

Yellow Agate lodged her bid three wide nearing the stretch, then continued well to just get up for the victory.

"She stretched out well," Clement said. "She changed leads at the eighth pole, and I am pleased with how she finished."

It was 9 1/4 lengths back from Libby's Tail to her stablemate Colorful Charades in third.

Yellow Agate, owned by the China Horse Club, paid $4.70 to win after being bet down to favoritism late. She completed a mile in 1:35.82.

Nonna Mela, the 8-5 second choice, pressed the early pace outside of Libby's Tail but tired after six furlongs and finished fourth. Nonna Mela was making her first start since winning the Aug. 19 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga by six lengths.

Sky Gesture, the 7-2 third choice in the six-horse field, stumbled badly at the start and then had a difficult inside trip before tiring to finish fifth. Her jockey, Mike Smith, said after the race that Sky Gesture had lost a shoe, bent another, and also displaced her palate.

– additional reporting by David Grening