Thursday, August 2, 2012

Three-Year-Old Fillies Roundup

Girl power has been a recurrent theme in horse racing as of late. The sophomore filly division has been very interesting and competitive in the past few years, producing some of the most talented fillies in recent years, such as Blind Luck, Rachel Alexandra, Rags to Riches, and Ashado. The three-year-old filly class does not have a spectacular standout this year, but is a competitive division nonetheless.

Many things have changed since my last
roundup of this division, which came at the end of January. Here is a look at several of the top three-year-old fillies in the nation:

Agave Kiss: This filly’s undefeated record was snapped in her seventh start, a dull fifth-place finish in the Victory Ride Stakes (GIII). A filly I have followed since her maiden victory,
Agave Kiss is much better than she showed in the Victory Ride. However, with just one graded stakes victory to her credit, Agave Kiss will need to step it up to be competitive at the grade one level. She is, of course, a sprinter and not a filly suited for nine furlongs or the classic distance.

Believe You Can: The Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner turned in a rather disappointing third-place finish in the Mother Goose Stakes (GI), being defeated by 9 ¼ lengths.
Believe You Can's most recent work was a one-mile work at Ellis Park in 1:38, which followed a five-furlong work at the same track.

Broadway’s Alibi: The runner-up in the Kentucky Oaks, Broadway’s Alibi won her first two starts of 2012 – both of which were graded stakes races – by a combined 20 ¼ lengths. However, she has not worked since June 10 and was shipped to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for examination and has not returned to the work tab.

Centre Court: This filly did not break her maiden until May, when she dominated a nine-furlong turf maiden at Churchill Downs. She then took two graded stakes: the Regret Stakes (GIII) and the Lake George Stakes (GII). Centre Court is certainly among the best grass fillies in the nation.

Contested: This filly was undefeated this year until she finished last in the Mother Goose. However, prior to that, she was brilliant, taking not only the Eight Belles Stakes (GIII), but the Acorn Stakes (GI). This filly appears to be more suited to distances shorter than nine furlongs. However, she is expected to contest in the Alabama Stakes (GI) at ten furlongs.

Disposablepleasure: A graded stakes-winning juvenile, Disposablepleasure is winless this year. However, she has finished in the money in three of her five starts this year. She finished a lackluster fourth in the Coaching Club American Oaks (GI) on July 21.

Dixie Strike:
A stakes winner in Florida earlier this year who finished third in a graded stakes at Gulfstream and fifth in the Ashland Stakes (GI) at Keeneland, the Ontario-bred Dixie Strike found her groove in Canada. After winning the Selene Stakes (GIII), Dixie Strike was soundly defeated in the Woodbine Oaks but then finished a good third against males in the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Queen’s Plate Stakes. She then defeated males in the second jewel, the Prince of Wales Stakes. Perhaps Dixie Strike is more competitive in Canada than in the United States, but she is certainly a talented filly. She could start next in the Alabama.

Eden’s Moon: After breaking her maiden in January at Santa Anita, Eden’s Moon easily won the Las Virgenes Stakes (GI) before finishing third in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI). Following a last-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks, Eden’s Moon finished a nose short in the Hollywood Oaks (GII) over the synthetic. She made her turf debut on July 22, impressively winning the San Clemente Handicap (GII) at Del Mar. She seems to have found her niche on the grass.

Grace Hall:
One of the top juvenile fillies last year, Grace Hall has never finished out of the money. A graded stakes winner at Gulfstream earlier this year, Grace Hall finished a good third in the Kentucky Oaks prior to returning on July 14 to effortlessly take the Delaware Oaks (GII). Though she does not have a grade one victory to her credit this year, I believe Grace Hall is among the top two of this division and she could prove that in the Alabama.

In Lingerie: A filly who has never finished out of the money,
In Lingerie scored her first graded stakes victory in her graded stakes debut, dominating the Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) at Turfway in March. She then overcame great trouble to win the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (GIII) before finishing a decent third in the July 21 Coaching Club American Oaks.

Karlovy Vary: This filly broke through with a win in the Ashland, but then finished a poor twelfth in the Kentucky Oaks. However, Karlovy Vary then rebounded with an easy win in an allowance optional claiming over the Churchill Downs turf. She recently finished a decent third in the Nani Rose Stakes over Saratoga's turf course.

Lady of Shamrock:
Recent winner of the American Oaks Stakes (GI), Lady of Shamrock has not finished off the board this year. A filly with an obvious affinity for Southern California turf courses, Lady of Shamrock could certainly have an advantage come the Breeders’ Cup. Obviously, this filly is more effective on turf than dirt, but I believe she is among the very best turf fillies in this division. She will likely race next in the Del Mar Oaks (GI).
My Miss Aurelia
Photo by Terri Cage

My Miss Aurelia: The champion juvenile filly from last year,
My Miss Aurelia has not made a start yet this year due to a shin injury. However, she has been working steadily and is currently at Saratoga, preparing for a possible start in the Monmouth Oaks (GIII).

On Fire Baby: This filly was a top two-year-old last year, winning two graded stakes at Churchill. Following a good effort against males at Oaklawn,
On Fire Baby won the Honeybee Stakes (GIII). However, she has been lackluster since then, finishing fifth in the Kentucky Oaks and fourth in the Acorn. She has had no workouts in the past sixty days.

Potesta: After finishing third in her debut in March, Potesta crushed a field in a mile and one-sixteenth maiden at Hollywood over the cushion track. Most recently, she took the Hollywood Oaks (GII) by a nose. She has plenty of learning to do, but is full of raw talent.

Questing: A filly who began her career in Great Britain, Questing took a while to get into the swing of things in the United States. She broke through with an easy victory in an allowance optional claiming at Belmont Park, following up that win with a green but dominant triumph in the Coaching Club American Oaks. She still has some growing up to do, but I believe Questing is among the best two in this division.

Reneesgotzip: A filly who has never competed outside of California, this daughter of
City Zip won the Santa Ynez Stakes (GII) in January prior to finishing second in both the Las Virgenes and the Santa Anita Oaks. Her most recent start came in early May, when she won an allowance at Hollywood Park. She has not posted a work since May 21.

Stephanie’s Kitten: The winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GII) and Alcibiades Stakes (GI) was third in the Ashland prior to winning the ungraded Edgewood Stakes over the Churchill Downs turf course. She recently finished a close fourth in the Lake George, experiencing a tough trip.

Winding Way: A full sister to the brilliant two-year-old maiden winner Kauai Katie, this filly has proven to be as impressive as her sister. After winning a six-furlong maiden at Hollywood Park by nearly five lengths, the filly dominated a six and one-half-furlong allowance optional claiming by 7 ¼ lengths at Del Mar. She will need to show what she can do against graded stakes company, but this is certainly a remarkable filly.

Zo Impressive: This gray filly dominantly won her first two career starts at Gulfstream Park early this year, the latter of which she defeated In Lingerie in. Following a runner-up finish behind Grace Hall in the Gulfstream Oaks Stakes (GII) and another second-place finish in the Acorn, Zo Impressive took the Mother Goose. She then finished a sound second behind Questing in the Coaching Club American Oaks.

This division seems to be one that consists of horses that take turns beating each other. Grace Hall and Questing appear to be at the top, but Eden's Moon and Lady of Shamrock are certainly at the top of the turf three-year-old fillies, though Karlovy Vary and Stephanie's Kitten could continue to rebound. Horses like In Lingerie, Winding Way, and Zo Impressive should not be ignored, either. This division has some sorting out to do.

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