Monday, October 24, 2011

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf

Last year, we saw a huge upset in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf when Shared Account won at 46-1. It’s a turf race at the Breeders’ Cup, so it will surely provide the classic international turf battle. Will we see another long shot win or will it be one of these four? Will the Americans be able to stand up for themselves?
Here are my top four picks for the Filly & Mare Turf:
1. Stacelita: Stacelita’ s first start in the United States was a tall task, as she faced the males in a grade one race. She finished third to Teaks North and Chinchon in the United Nations Stakes (GI). Then it was her time to shine on American turf. She won the prestigious Beverly D. Stakes (GI) at Arlington Park on Arlington Million Day, defeating the most talented American turf females impressively. On a yielding turf course at Belmont Park on October 1, the daughter of four-time leading German sire Monsun easily won the Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (GI).
The Chad Brown trainee has been training over the Belmont inner turf course and though many of her works haven’t been very flashy on paper, I’ve noticed a pattern in several of her last works: slow work, fast work, slow work, fast work, slow work. I’m not worried at all about her training regimen, as Chad Brown definitely knows what he’s doing.
Since Midday will likely be Stacelita’s top rival in the Breeders’ Cup, it should be pointed out that Stacelita finished second to Midday last year in the Nassau Stakes (GI) at Goodwood. Yes, she lost to Midday, but that was last year and this is this year. It helps that Stacelita is coming into the BC with 2 consecutive victories. Midday, on the other hand, is coming into the BC with 2 consecutive losses. Stacelita may have started out as a European, but she is an American now and she is America’s best shot at winning the Filly & Mare Turf.

2. Midday: Her performance in her final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, the Champion Stakes (GI), in which she finished fourth, was quite flat. Of course, she had to travel wide and cover a lot of ground, but it was not the Midday we’re used to seeing. Before the Champion Stakes, she hadn’t finished worse than third since November of 2008, when she ran in her first stakes as a two-year-old.
However, Midday is always dangerous. She has an impressive record in this race, as she won it in 2009 and finished a close second last year. If she wins this year, she will become just the second horse to win the race twice (the first was Ouija Board). I believe it will be a tougher task for her this year with a stronger American line-up and tough Europeans, but as mentioned, Midday is always dangerous.
3. Dubawi Heights: This filly, bred in Great Britain, also has plenty of European ties. She made her first six starts on that continent, but has since raced primarily in southern California for the Simon Callaghan barn. She has not finished worse than second this year. In fact, her only loss came to Stacelita, in which she finished second in the Beverly D.
After two consecutive graded stakes wins at Hollywood Park, including the Gamely Stakes (GI), Dubawi Heights finished behind Stacelita in the Beverly D. She returned to southern California, winning the Yellow Ribbon Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita while holding off Cozi Rosie.
Her two works after her Yellow Ribbon victory have been impressive. Traveling a half-mile on October 15 over the Santa Anita dirt surface, Dubawi Heights worked in 47.60. A week later, she turned in 59.80 for five furlongs. She is definitely talented and training well, but I’m not sure if she can catch the top two.
4. Cozi Rosie: Maybe she’s just a sentimental favorite and that’s why she’s landed in fourth, but I think this filly has a huge amount of potential on the turf course, especially if it comes up firm. She has not finished off the board this year and has turned in a good performance each time. As a closer, she’ll likely enjoy the extra ground. Her recent works hint that she is building up stamina, as her last five works have been at either five furlongs, six furlongs, seven furlongs, or a mile. The Breeders’ Cup will certainly provide her with the toughest competition she’s ever faced, but she always tries hard.
Honorable Mentions:
: She’s undefeated in four starts and coming off a group one win. I think that speaks for itself.
Announce: She finished second to Nahrain by a nose and was closing fast. This filly is classy and consistent: a deadly combination.

*Update (10/26): Midday is now likely going in the Turf against the males rather than the Filly & Mare Turf.

*Update (10/29): Cozi Rosie is out.

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