Hi everyone, I am very honored, fortunate and excited to be part of the Horse Racing Nation team of bloggers that will be covering the Breeders' Cup races. My assignment from editor Brian Zipse, if I chose to accept it (and I did), is the Filly and Mare Turf. At this point, just a smidge over 5 weeks to go until the Breeders' Cup, the field is still a work in progress, and it's anyone's guess who will actually be in the $2 million Grade 1 event. So, I will stretch the net to include the names of horses who are probable, possible and of course, those that have earned an automatic entry. Remember, until official entries are taken, the make-up of this race, with additions and deletions, will constantly evolve over the next several weeks. Performances in the upcoming preps, connections change of plans and any injuries that could occur, all will have their effects on the final lineup.
NOTE: Horses are listed alphabetically, not by ranking. With that said, let's get this assignment out of the gate and heading toward the first Friday in November.
**Denotes Breeders' Cup "Win & You're In" Challenge winner
ALTERITE/Chad Brown--Following her final start as a juvenile last season, the French-bred filly was a private purchase for her current owner who then kept this gal racing in France for half of this calendar year. She competed in the French Triple Crown for fillies during a five week time frame from May until June. The next month, she was shipped to the United States and arrived in the Brown barn, and her new conditioner got this one back to the races mid-September at Belmont Park. The time away did wonders as she made her North American bow a winning effort taking down the G1 Garden City Stakes.
BETTER LUCKY/Tom Albertrani--Was a winner at first asking late in her juvenile year. Had a very productive sophomore campaign with three victories, including defeating elders in the Matriarch Stakes that made her a G1 winner. 4-year old filly has been blanked in a trio of starts in 2013, and last time out after four straight starts in G1 company where she had been competitive, she was lowered to a less prestigious G3 race and missed the top spot by a half-length. Was it the rust from a three month layoff or did something go amiss that caused the drop? Distance capabilities are in question.
CENTRE COURT/George Arnold--After a runner-up maiden debut at much to short a distance over a dirt surface, she put together a string of 10 consecutive races where she finished either 1st or 2nd on the grass. However, that incredible streak has come to an end as the 4-year old filly has been out of the money in her last three runs, including two last place finishes.
**DANK/Sir Michael Stoute--In a brilliant North American debut at Arlington Park back in mid-August, a race where she displayed strong late speed with powerful strides, this filly became an automatic qualifier for this event courtesy of her Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win &You're In" score in the G1 Beverly D. Her winning time tied a stakes record, and also marked her initial G1 victory. The latest win now makes this gal perfect in three starts beyond one-mile, having earlier annexed two 9 furlong events. She has won half of her 12 starts, with 4 being either Group/Graded events.
EMOLLIENT/Bill Mott--Filly has a 4-2-0 record from nine starts which have encompassed all three racing surfaces. With strong grass breeding, it was no surprise that this filly's turf bow in the American Oaks was a winning effort. The win gave her multiple Grade 1's victories this year, her other came via a 9-length score in the Ashland Stakes over the Keeneland poly track, her only try on synthetic.
FLOTILLA/Mikel Delzangles--Surprise winner (11-1) of last year's B.C. Juvenile Fillies Turf returns to Santa Anita as 3-yr old to tackle older. Notched her second G1 win in her 2013 debut, getting up in the closing strides of the French One-Thousand Guineas. She faded out of contetion when extended beyond a mile in the G1 French Oaks, and then following a three month absence, she was far below her best form last outing.
GIFTED GIRL/Paul Cole--Sports a nice record of consistency over her last six starts on turf with 3 wins and just as many second place finishes. Commenced her season back in May at Ascot, where she easily destroyed the field of 10 by five lengths. That was the last time she found the winners circle. Two back, she was away slow, yet still ran well in the G1 Arlington Million, making a big late run, but obviously she wasn't going to beat the winner (Dank). Was then returned to Europe, where she contested the G3 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup (formerly known as the Arc Trial) at Newbury Racecourse last weekend, and there too she had to settle for a runner-up placing. Has a strong preference for firm footing, so the Santa Anita turf may be to her liking if dry.
LADY OF SHAMROCK/John Sadler--4 year-old gal is truly a model of consistency with only a single out of the money finish in her last 14 runs, but that blemish occurred in the 2012 running of the Filly & Mare Turf on her home track where 4 of her 7 wins have been produced. This multiple graded stakes winner has proven her affinity for the 10 furlong distance.
LAUGHING/Alan Goldberg--Irish-bred mare began her career on the synthetic track at Dundalk, before switching over to the turf at Navan where she broke her maiden in her third start. Her only two out of the money finishes since being introduced to grass racing, which spans a dozen races from May 2011 until August 2013, happened at Woodbine. During that stretch of time, she has been perfect in 3 starts, including this years G1 Diana and G2 Ballston Spa, both at Saratoga.
MARKETING MIX/Tom Proctor--Mare was runner-up in this event in 2012. Began her career unsuccessfully on dirt before transitioning to synthetics, where she broke her maiden and was stakes placed twice before finding her niche on turf. She's been kept racing strictly on grass for well over two years with excellent results, finishing first or second in 12 of 13 races prior to her last start in the Beverly D. In that event, bettors respected her impeccable race record, including a runner-up finish in the 2012 running, and sent her off as the even-money choice, but her effort this year was only good for a fourth place finish.
**MINAKSHI/Michael Matz--She notched a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In' race with a score in the G2 Canadian Stakes last out at Woodbine, but the 5-year old mare is not Breeders' Cup nominated and would have to be supplemented to the Filly & Mare Turf event for $200,000. Did the bulk of her racing in France before coming to the United States. Had no prior group or graded stakes experience until she step foot in North America this year. Since being elevated to that level of competition, she's been very competitive in all her races.
ROMANTICA/Andre Fabre--Regally bred filly has won three Group races in France, all at the 10 furlong distance. Although she owns a victory against Group 1 horses, the only two sub-par performances in her record came against Group 1 competition in the Prix Vermeille last year, and last time out when traveling 12 furlongs.
SARKIYLA/Alain Royer-Dupre--Filly could be under-rated now after having been beaten in her last seven runs, following 4 wins in her first 5 races. She gave a good effort last out in the G1 Prix Jean Romanet, rallying well in the latter stages, but the winner had plenty to hold off the challenge. She hasn't been embarrassed when tested against the boys as she came very close to beating the talented Don Bosco two starts back at 1-mile at St Cloud. Better suited to the 10 furlong distance.
SOLID APPEAL/Reade Baker--With the exception of 3 U.S. starts, all of her racing has been in Canada. Made first six appearances on the Woodbine poly track looking for win number one, but that maiden score didn't occur until start seven into her 3-year old season over the grass course. Closed out 2012 at Churchill Downs with a decent fourth place finish in G2 company. Opened up 2013 by reeling off three wins in-a-row, then faded in the Beverly D, her only G1 outing to date, and the Canadian Stakes, after being prominent early in both.
STEPHANIE'S KITTEN/Wayne Catalano--She was a Breeders' Cup winner two years back at Churchill Downs when she took down the Juvenile Fillies Turf event. Captured a pair of graded stakes in three starts this year. Multiple G1 winner missed a scheduled run in the Beverly D when afflicted with a hind-end issue. She has recently returned to the work tab.
**THE FUGUE/John Gosden--In her latest, G1 Irish Champion Stakes, she delivered a sparkling performance that justifies an opportunity for the October Prix l'Arc de Triomphe. However, the 2013 B.C Filly & Mare Turf sits high on her connections agenda as they look to atone for last year's disappointing third place finish which was compromised by traffic woes at critical points during the stretch run. Earned an automatic return trip to Santa Anita with her win two back in the G1 Yorkshire Oaks.
TIZ FLIRTATIOUS/Martin Jones--This mare has done all her racing in California, where she was bred, and has NEVER been out of the money in 11 career runs. She has finished first or second in 10 of those races. Is a multi surface winner with 3 dirt/synthetic victories to go with her 4 turf conquests. She's a multiple G2 winner, and in her two G1 contests, she lost by a length in one, and by a mere head in the other. The turn of foot she displayed in winning her latest was remarkable.
WINSILI/John Gosden--Lightly-raced 3 year old is talented, having won 3 of her first 5 starts, including defeating older runners last out in the G1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood. She took that event at 20-1 odds, and Gosden wants to prove the win wasn't a fluke, so although it appears she may head to California to contest the Breeders' Cup where she will relish distance of the race, her quirky mannerisms may ultimately force her trainer to keep this one home in the U.K.