Great Britain bred The Fugue has options. The talented 4-year old daughter of Dansili can either try to improve on her 3rd place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare turf, or she can continue to face the boys and run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. She has won a “Win and You’re In” challenge race for both and could go in either spot. Where she lands will remain a mystery for now, though trainer John Gosden has said that she will pre-entered in both, with preference to the mile and a half Turf.
Before the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf event was created in 1999, female turf distance runners only had the option of running with the boys in the Turf. Between the creation of the Breeders’ Cup World Championship races in 1984 and the addition of the F&M Turf in 1999, two fillies were able to beat the boys to the wire in the mile and half event. Both fillies won the Turf en route to being named Champion Female Turf Horse and to this day remain the only two to accomplish that feat. A win by The Fugue would put her in some pretty elite company, but she has already proven that she has the talent and drive to be something special.
As good as British bred Pebbles was during her two and three-year old seasons, it wasn’t until her 4-year old season that she really began to shine. She won the inaugural running of the Group 2 Trusthouse Forte Mile, the Group 1 Dubai Champion Stakes, and the Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes, the only filly or mare to ever win that event since its inception in 1886. She also added a second place finish in the Group 2 Prince of Wales’s Stakes. Trainer Clive Brittain then decided to ship his star filly to New York to make her final career start in the second running of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, held at Aqueduct in 1985.
Pebbles was sent off as the 11/5 favorite in a talented field that included the 1987 winner of the race Theatrical. Jockey Pat Eddery settled the chestnut filly in at the back of the field in the early stages of the race. As the field entered the final turn, the duo began moving up on the inside, getting up to within striking distance but stuck on the rail. Luck was with her that day, though, for as the field turned for home, the rail opened up and she exploded through on the inside to take the lead.
Even though it was her first attempt at 12 furlongs, the gallant Pebbles had enough left in the tank to hold off the late charge of the 1983 Australian Horse of the Year Strawberry Road. Her final time of 2.27 set a new course record for Aqueduct, a record that stands to this day. Her victory was the first by a British horse in the Breeders’ Cup races, the first for a filly or mare in the Turf, and earned her the Eclipse for American Female Turf Horse for 1985. She was also named British Horse of the Year, Timeform Horse of the Year, and European Champion that year.
Six years later Miss Alleged became the second filly to win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf race. The bay daughter of Alleged did not make her first career start until her 3-year old season, but she quickly made up for lost time by rattling off three straight wins, included two graded stakes wins. In 1991, it looked as though the talented filly may have lost a step or two. She went winless in her first six starts of the year, but when she needed a win most, she got one.
Under jockey Eric Legrix, Miss Alleged stalked the early pace down toward the inside. For the stretch drive, Legrix pulled the filly toward the center of the course and set her down to catch the gray Itsallgreektome. Gobbling up ground quickly, Miss Alleged caught the late leader and pulled away to win by about a length as the 42-1 outsider. Miss Alleged stayed in the U.S. for the remainder of her career. She added a win in the 1991 Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes, again out-finishing Itsallgreektome, before going winless in her last season. For her two wins over males at 12 furlongs, Miss Alleged was named the 1991 Champion Female Turf Horse.
A win by The Fugue in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf would make her just the third filly to ever accomplish the feat. Unlike Pebbles, The Fugue has the advantage of having already tried and succeeded at the 12 furlong distance, and she’s familiar with the Santa Anita course. She actually ran quite a race last year in the Filly & Mare Turf. She was down on the rail for most of the early running and was kept trapped there on the turn and into the stretch. After literally running up the heels of the horses in front of her, she finally found some room to run, but it was too little, too late. A better trip and the additional quarter mile of the Turf will do her a world of good this year.