Weekend stakes might produce starters
Although the Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup Challenge races have all been completed, the possibility exists for more horses to join the fray for the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Del Mar after running in Grade 1 stakes at Keeneland and Woodbine this weekend.
Up first is Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup from Keeneland, which drew a deep, accomplished field of 11 that includes such elite U.S.-based 3-year-old fillies as New Money Honey, Uni, La Coronel, Dream Dancing, and Proctor’s Ledge, plus a pair of talented European invaders in Unforgetable Filly and Wuheida.
Sunday’s Grade 1, $500,000 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine, for fillies and mares, has an even more international field. Again talent runs deep, with Quidura, Rainha Da Bateria, Fourstar Crook, and Kitten’s Roar heading the North American contingent. They will be joined by talented overseas raiders Blond Me, Rain Goddess, and Nezwaah.
Several from each race are possibilities to join the Filly and Mare Turf, according to the Breeders’ Cup racing department. New Money Honey, Unforgetable Filly, and Wuheida from the Queen Elizabeth II are considered possible Breeders’ Cup starters, while Quidura, Nezwaah, and Kitten’s Roar head the Breeders’ Cup prospectives from the E.P. Taylor.
Trainer Mike Maker is campaigning Kitten’s Roar in the same way he prepared Al’s Gal to win the E.P. Taylor in 2016. Like Al’s Gal, Kitten’s Roar lost in the Beverly D. at Arlington before winning a stakes at Kentucky Downs. Al’s Gal won a head-bobbing photo by a nose in the E.P. Taylor in 2016 before running ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
This year’s E.P. Taylor seems a stronger renewal than last year’s.
Nezwaah may have the best chances of the Europeans, having won two of three races this year, including the Group 1 Pretty Polly at The Curragh in July. She then ran fourth behind superstar Enable in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks on Aug. 24 over good-to-soft ground that was likely wetter than she prefers.
The final Grade 1 turf race of 2017 restricted to 3-year-old fillies, the Queen Elizabeth II seems less likely to generate Filly and Mare Turf starters and is serving as more of a yearend goal for many of the horses.
The last Queen Elizabeth II winner to take on her elders in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf was Kitten’s Dumplings in 2013. She ran ninth.