Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
1. Dreaming of Julia (A.P. Indy-Dream Rush, by Wild Rush) Todd Pletcher– I cannot really hold a defeat in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies against this talented runner from the East Coast. After looking very good in her first three starts, she had to ship cross-country to face her main competition on their home turf, and was going against a strong speed bias to boot. Her effort to be third that day was just fine, and she's bred to only get better with age. Back east of the Mississippi, I consider her the one to beat in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks. Her training in Florida has gone like clockwork, so we should get to see her make her seasonal debut in next week's Davona Dale.
2. Flashy Gray (Flashy Bull-Pleasure Cat, by Cat's Career) Bill Mott - I'm convinced that West Point got something good when they grabbed this roan filly for $775,000 from the Dolphus Morrison dispersal sale last fall. The purchase came after a huge maiden performance at Churchill Downs, and on Sunday, she confirmed that win with another eye-catching victory. This time it was at Gulfstream Park, and for new trainer Bill Mott, but the look of the race remained the same. She stalked the early pace again before rolling home an easy winner over a couple of talented fillies in fast time. She has yet to be farther than seven furlongs, but she gives me the look of a filly who will handle the extra two furlongs.
3. Emollient (Empire Maker-Soothing Touch, by Touch Gold) Bill Mott– After breaking her maiden impressively in her second start, the well bred filly came back as a big favorite in the Grade 2 Demoiselle. It looked like a case of pure talent almost overcoming the circumstances, but she could not get to Unlimited Budget that day, but I'm expecting a ton of improvement under the tutelage of her master conditioner. Time and maturity should be all that the extremely green filly I saw last time needs to turn it all around and become a major force in the division. She may get to test the top one in the Davona Dale.
4. Pure Fun (Pure Prize-Chelsea Green, by Key to the Mint) Ken McPeek – In two stunning displays of late speed this Kenny McPeek trained miss went from a complete unknown to one of the most interesting filles on the Kentucky Oaks trail. Not only does she possess a strong win over the Churchill Downs main track, but Pure Fun also has a big win over a strong field already in the bank. It would not be hard to imagine a repeat of the explosive turn of foot that she displayed in the grade 1 Hollywood Starlet carrying her victory in the Oaks. No listed works yet in '13, but McPeek says she is doing well and will be ready soon.
5. Princess of Sylmar (Majestic Warrior-Stormy Dixie, by Stormy Atlanitc) Todd Pletcher – After loving what I saw from this one in the Busanda, bursting through a small hole like a filly on a purpose, this daughter of Majestic Warrior, came back to roll through her competition once again, this time in the Busher. While her competition leaves plenty to be desired, she gives every indication of being the real deal. Distance will also not be a problem with this one. She will stay in New York to await the Gazelle in April as her final preparation for the first Friday in May.
6. Blonde Fog (Divine Park-Betty's Solutions, by Eltish) Bob Baffert – There's nothing here to knock in her impressive debut performance, followed by a good 2nd in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet. Still a lot to learn about this lightly raced filly, but I was very impressed with her tenacious effort last time. Fighting off all challenges until the late stages when swept up by the fast finishing, Pure Fun, she then galloped out strongly like a horse who wants to run a distance. It looks like her Hall of Fame conditioner might have another good one in Blonde Fog.
7. Beholder (Henny Hughes-Leslie's Lady, by Tricky Creek) Richard Mandella – The Juvenile Champion is in a bit of limbo right now. Suicidal fractions and a throat ulcer were blamed for her loss in the Santa Ynez. Whether you buy the excuse(s) or not, the truth is her 2nd place finish that day was not so bad in a difficult spot considering the pace, and it being her first race since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. It will be interesting to see how she bounces back, and if we see all her talent on display in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes.
8. Executiveprivilege (First Samurai-Refugee, by Unaccounted For) Bob Baffert - The undisputed leader of her division for most of the year, she had things go a little south in the late stages of 2012, and it seems that Baffert is giving her plenty of rest before beginning her three-year-old season in earnest. It will be interesting to see which filly comes back this year. The one who impressively won her first five races might be the one to beat in the Kentucky Oaks, but the one that struggled home in the Hollywood Starlet would seem to be up against it in the run for the lilies.
9. So Many Ways (Sightseeing-Happy Scene, by Dehere) Anthony Dutrow – She may be the somewhat forgotten filly right now, but keep in mind, the daughter of Sightseeing was a smart winner of Saratoga's Schuylerville Stakes, and the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes before her connections decided to not push her any farther as a juvenile and wait for a more mature version this year. She has been work steadily at Palm Meadows and judging from her most recent moves, looks just about ready to make her seasonal debut soon for trainer Tony Dutrow.
10. My Happy Face (Tiz Wonderful-Summer Star, by Siberian Summer) Rudy Rodriguez – She may have been no match for the fleet-footed Kauai Katie in her seasonal debut, but the Forward Gal is far from the end game. The solid debut should set her up well for future races run at longer distances. I still maintain little doubt in is her toughness. After winning by a pole in her second career start at the Spa, she put it all on the line in next two starts. In both the Frizette and the Tempted, this granddaughter of Tiznow, proved a strong desire to get to the wire ahead of her competition. She is another one likely to show up in a strong Davona Dale Stakes.
11. Close Hatches (First Defence-Rising Tornado, by Storm Cat) Bill Mott– Is Bill Mott the new Todd Pletcher of the three-year-fillies? I kid of course, but the Hall of Fame conditioner is blessed with a deep cast of talented young fillies this year. The the debut of this good looking daughter of first crop sire, First Defence, was most imrpressive as she waited patiently before steamrolling a well-intended field of maiden fillies at Gulfstream Park recently. It looks like the sky is the limit with this one, so it will be interesting to see what Mott has in store for her second career race.
12. Unlimited Budget (Street Sense-Unlimited Pleasure, by Valid Appeal) Todd Pletcher - There is a lot to like here including an undefeated record, already having a win at nine furlongs, and a nice mix of speed and stamina in her pedigree, but still, I cannot shake the belief that the result of the Demoiselle, in which she held off Emollient, will not hold up this year. Splitting up his band of fillies, much like he is doing with his colts, Pletcher will start this one off in New Orleans in next week's Rachel Alexandra Stakes, where among others, she will face the filly next on this list. 13. Smitten (Tapit-Hi Lili, by Silver Deputy) Larry Jones - A little less known than the Demoiselle winner, Smitten is a good looking gray daughter of Tapit. The Rick Porter owned and Larry Jones trained miss is getting better with every start. After breaking her maiden smartly in New Orleans, she came from way back against a solid field in the Silverbulletday to finish a wide third. In a race that breaking slowly from the far outside post did her no favors, Smitten demonstrated the ability to compete with graded stakes type fillies. She looks ready to win, and don't be surprised if she does that against a solid field in the Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds.