Among the newly presented puzzle pieces in the juvenile filly division is Just F Y I, who earned a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” slot for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (USA-G1) off a drawing-off 3¾ length win in the Frizette Stakes (USA-G1). A first-out winner in a 6-furlong maiden at Saratoga on August 26, the Bill Mott trainee faced three other fillies with only a maiden win to their credits in Life Talk (who was making her third lifetime start), Central Avenue, and even-money favorite Emery. The only Frizette entrants to have won twice were Princess Indy, who won the one-mile Sorority Stakes at Monmouth on August 20 for her second win from three starts, and Irish Maxima, who came in undefeated in two races.
Bill Mott has never been known for cranking down hard on juveniles, especially when bigger targets lie ahead, and perhaps the sealed track had something to do with a lackluster set of performances across the board; according to Equibase speed figures, not one filly in the field matched or outdid her previous best form, and most regressed substantially. Nonetheless, Just F Y I’s figure was the worst in the Frizette since 2006, when Sutra pulled a 12.50-1 upset, and it was about 20 points below the average figures posted by the champions and serious championship contenders that have won this race since then. That’s not what you want to see going into racing’s biggest weekend.
Still, if Just F Y I has the talent to be more than a Grade 1 winner in a field that so far appears well below Grade 1 quality, Mott is the man to pull it out and develop it, and on pedigree it should be there. The filly is a daughter of 2018 American Triple Crown winner Justify, who has been red-hot lately with Prix Marcel Boussac-Criterium des Pouliches (FR-G1) winner Opera Singer, Jessamine Stakes Presented by Keeneland November (USA-G2) winner Buchu, and Miss Grillo Stakes (USA-G2) winner Hard to Justfy all emerging since the beginning of October. Now the sire of 18 stakes winners, who also include 2023 Grade 1 winners Arabian Lion and Aspen Grove, Justify may well see a bump to the US$100,000 stud fee he commanded in 2023 when Ashford Stud releases its 2024 fees.
On the distaff side, Just F Y I is one of three winners from as many foals of racing age produced by Star Act, whose only other produce is a 2023 full sister to Just F Y I. A stakes-placed daughter of 2002 Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) winner Street Cry, Star Act is a half sister to Celebrity Cat (by Storm Cat), whose son Uncle Benny (by Declaration of War) won two listed races and ran second in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (USA-G1).
Star Act, in turn, is out of Starrer, who gave the performance of a lifetime in finishing first in the 2001 Coaching Club American Oaks (USA-G1) by 11 lengths. Unfortunately, she did so without the services of her jockey, Chris McCarron, who had been unseated at the break, but she later made up for the missed opportunity by winning the 2003 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (USA-G1) and Santa Maria Handicap (USA-G1) as well as three Grade 2 races. A daughter of the top stamina influence Dynaformer, Starrer is a half sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Stellar Jayne (by Wild Rush) and is out of multiple Grade 3-placed To the Hunt (by Relaunch), whose half sister American Royale (by American Standard), a multiple Grade 2 winner, was one of the fastest sprint fillies ever seen in New York for as long as she stayed healthy.
On paper, Just F Y I has the potential for some significant upside as she continues to develop, and she will need to tap into some of that potential if she is to compete with the likes of FanDuel Racing Del Mar Debutante Stakes (USA-G1) winner Tamara, Darley Alcibiades Stakes (USA-G1) winner Candied, and Chandelier Stakes (USA-G2) winner Chatalas, all of whom have run substantially faster figures during their own brief careers. Any one of these fillies can nail down a championship by proving in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies that her signature win thus far was not a one-off. The likelihood is that when the dust has settled, the juvenile filly champion will be unbeaten but with only three starts under her girth—not very satisfying to those of us who can remember when even 2-year-old champions were much more thoroughly tested, but reflective of today’s racing world, at least in North America.