Southern California gets to bask in the glow of premier thoroughbred horse racing by hosting Breeders’ Cup… for the 3rd consecutive year, and will in 2014. The decision to holdover the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita for more than the typical 2 year stint was not a popular one with folks in New York and Kentucky.
The convenient excuse was that good weather would be as sure thing. Because after all, who wants to go to a race track in sub-70 degree weather? Answer: Everyone in the northern hemisphere who does not reside in California or Florida. Just ask all the connections of European runners, whose winter coats have begun to grow. Bet they’re excited to run in temperatures forecasted to reach the mid-80’s.
Speaking of Euros, there’s a few among the fourteen 2-year-old fillies running in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Will the heat compromise their chances or will the fact that their North American foes have to run without Lasix even the playing field?
Here’s the field...
1. Nesso 20-1
If not for Clenor, this gal would be 3 for 3. In both of her turf tries, at the same one mile distance as this race, she played bridesmaid to Clenor. Martin Garcia retains the mount.
2. Al Thakhira 6-1
This daughter of Dubawi made her racing debut just 43 days ago in Great Britain. It was a winning one going 6 furlongs. Then she took a huge leap into a Group 2 race and easily defeated seven rivals, but that was just 18 days ago. Is traveling halfway around the global asking too much too soon for yet another top effort? Ryan Moore will be in the irons.
3. Colonel Joan 20-1
Still a maiden after 3 career outings, she’s never gone off at single-digit odds and as sure as the sun will come up in the morning, you’ll get at least 20-1 on her Friday. On the positive side, she gets better with each start. Most recently a 3rd place effort in her only turf start in the $100,000 Surfer Girl Stakes on this turf course.
4. Kitten Kaboodle 12-1
Surprise! A Kitten’s Joy offspring who excels on the grass... who’d da thunk it?! Broke maiden in Grade 3 Jessamine Stakes routing on Keeneland lawn after two runner-up efforts in MSW contests at The Spa. Johnny Velasquez will be fourth different jock in as many career starts for the Chad Brown trainee.
5. Granny Mc’s Kitten 20-1
Ken Ramsey loves the spotlight and possibility to lead one of his runners into the Winners’ Circle. So that’s why he entered two of his “kittens” in here. At least in the paddock he can stand between the #4 and #5 stall with trainer Chad Brown to keep an eye on both runners. This filly was the 9-5 betting choice in the Grade 3 Ms. Grillo at Belmont last out, but could only manage a fourth place finish. The M/L here appears to be generous for such a talented runner who will have one of the best turf riders in the country (Javier Castellano) at the helm.
6. Vorda (FR) 4-1
This Euro is 4 for 5 lifetime but all in turf sprints, beating the boys to boot. But the question is… can she outrun her sprint pedigree and stretch out to one mile? Jockey Olivier Peslier certainly thinks so. Otherwise he wouldn’t be making the trans-Atlantic journey just for this mount, would he?
7. Street Sailing 15-1
So what kind of chance does this PA-bred exiting a non-winners of 2 lifetime event have in a graded stakes? Well considering that last race was her turf debut, winning by 6¼ lengths and you’re owned by Team Valor International, you “Go for it!”. Transferred to Team Valor’s #1 trainer (Richard Mettee) for this one, the reins will be placed in the capable hands of Alan Garcia. The M/L should be more like 30-1.
8. Chriselliam (Ire) 6-1
Most recent effort, a Group 1 win at Newmarket (GB) indicates this European invader is one to be reckoned with, but one never knows if she’ll show up. She lost her career debut in May by 13+ lengths. Then after breaking maiden in her second start, couldn’t handle Group 3 company, losing by 8¼. Regardless of her Jekyll & Hyde nature, she’s improved in each of her 5 starts, based on Racing Post Ratings.
9. Dancing House 20-1
This Tapit filly has 3 starts under her belt on 3 different surfaces (fast dirt, slop and firm turf) while stretching out from 6 to 7 to 8½ furlongs, with her best effort being on turf. Mike Smith picks up the mount for this Kiaran McLaughlin trainee. Though beat by Testa Rossi (FR) and Sky Painter, both who are in here, she has never raced with Lasix, while those two did. It remains to be seen if runners first-time without Lasix come back to her level. A live longshot.
10. Clenor (Ire) 8-1
It’s been a tale of two careers in this filly’s 6 race career. In her first 3 starts in Ireland she failed to break her maiden, but connections knew talent was there when she ran 3rd in a Group 3 while off at 7-2. Since shipping to SoCal conditioner Doug O’Neill, she’s reeled off 3 consecutive victories, all on the grass and at today’s one mile distance. With home court advantage and continued upside, she could go off as second betting choice.
11. Ready to Act 8-1
More Than Ready simply produces turf winners and did so in the male version of this event in 2011 when Wrote scored at 11-1. This lassie would be 2 for 2 but freaked in deep stretch when negatively reacting to the whip and veered in, losing her rider when in front by 2 supposedly on her way to a Grade 2 victory. If not for that incident, she’d be at worst 5-1 M/L. Joel Rosario gets the call on what seems to be the Wise-Guy horse here.
12. Testa Rossi (FR) 8-1
Interesting that she ran without Lasix in her first 4 races in France, winning 3 and a close second versus boys in a Group 1. Yet in her US debut at Belmont was given the juice and won the Grade 3 Miss Grillo by a nostril. Knowing 2-year-olds cannot run with Lasix in BC races, then why give it to her in a race that was obviously a prep for this one?
13. Sky Painter 15-1
Outside post should not compromise this daughter of Street Cry as she enjoys having plenty of targets in front of her early. She stepped up and stretched out smartly from her maiden sprint score to graded stakes, where she got the short end of the photo to the aforementioned Testa Rossi. If Luis Saez keeps her out of trouble without being hung too wide, she has a huge chance to upset.
14. My Conquestadory 9-2
Talk about making a good first impression. All she did was debut in the one mile Grade 2 Summer stakes on the turf against the boys and destroyed them by more than 3 lengths. As an encore took the Grade 1 Alcibiad over the Keeneland synthetic surface, while overcoming some mid-race traffic issues. She was cross-entered in the Juvenile Fillies, but with her Poppa (Artie Schiller) having been a turf star (BC Mile winner), this race was the obvious choice.
How I see it: Among this field of 14 are only 5 who want any part of being on the lead, while 8 do their best running in the final quarter, which leaves just one (Kitten Kaboodle) to likely have the best trip in middle pack. Contrary to popular belief, the Santa Anita turf course has not been speed-friendly as just 19% of those types have won mile turf races at the current meet. The ultra-firm turf course has yielded an astonishing 67% winners who come from well off the pace. One would be wise not to ignore these facts when making your Juvenile Fillies Turf selection. I’m not one to buck the trend, so with that being said…
Top Pick: Sky Painter
Use in your Exotics: Testa Rossi (FR), Clenor (Ire), Chriselliam (Ire)