Is Sistercharlie on Magical's level heading into Breeders' Cup?

October 21, 2019 01:20pm
Until last weekend, Sistercharlie looked like a strong favorite for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park. As long as the probables list stayed the same, she figured to repeat in this race.

But with the likely addition of European invader Magical, winner of Ascot's Champion Stakes (G1) on Saturday, the event's dynamic has changed, adding a filly with a higher class.

Despite four losses this year, Magical ran well all season against top Europeans. Top races on turf in the United Kingdom and France remain a step ahead of those in America, despite a more recent emphasis on grass races domestically.

After opening her campaign with three soft wins, Magical stepped up in company and tackled the Prince of Wales's Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot. She finished second to Crystal Ocean while well clear of Waldgeist in third.

Crystal Ocean then ran second to the legendary Enable in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) and second to Japan as well in the Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) before a forced early retirement.

Following the Prince of Wales's, Magical finished runner-up to Enable in both the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (G1) and Darley Yorkshire Oaks (G1).

In the Coral-Eclipse, Magical came close towards the end, giving 
a superb effort in defeat. 

After the Yorkshire Oaks, Magical finally picked up another win in the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) over Magic Wand and Anthony Van Dyck.

The latter won the Investec Derby (G1) earlier this year, while the former ran second to Bricks and Mortar in North America twice this year in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and Arlington Million (G1).

Magical took another shot at Enable in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1), but this time both fillies lost as Magical faded by 10 lengths.

But on closer inspection, the pace probably went too fast.

Notice how Magical contests the lead with two other speed horses. The trio separated from the field by a few lengths at an early point. It is not easy to tell without fractions, but a fractured field where the speed separates from the rest of the pack normally indicates a fast pace, and this race ran on some trying ground. 

Magical did well to secure the lead momentarily before Enable, Scottass, Japan and then Waldgeist passed her. Those are four quality names.

A few weeks later, Magical bounced back by capturing the Champion Stakes (G1) over Addeybb, Deirdre, Coronet and I Can Fly.

As for Sistercharlie's campaign, she won all three starts in North America, possibly with some help from her personal rabbit Thais.

In the Diana Stakes (G1), Sistercharlie came off the bench made her usual closing run to defeat Rushing Fall and Homerique after Thais hurt the other speed, Mitchell Road.

One race later in the Beverly D. Stakes (G1), Sistercharlie won by three lengths over Awesometank, Competitionofideas and Fleeting. Fleeting recently ran third in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (G1) and is listed as another possible Aidan O'Brien entrant for the Filly & Mare Turf.

Next, Sistercharlie held off Mrs. Sippy by ¾ of a length in the Flower Bowl Stakes (G1). The performance was more impressive than the short margin indicates.

Toward the end, Sistercharlie keeps Mrs. Sippy at bay even though the latter came at Sistercharlie in full acceleration.

Thais managed to hold third in this one after opening up by 12 lengths.

Sistercharlie defeated some nice horses in her campaign. But when compared to Magical's ambitious spotting and her consistency against European monsters, it is hard to argue Sistercharlie looks more impressive.

Also, as a 3-year-old Magical ran a strong second to Enable in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs last year, pushing Enable until the end to only lose by ¾ of a length. In that same race, Waldgeist ran fifth.

Clearly, Magical does not mind traveling, and the Lasix might help her.

But as a mild strike against Magical, it is arguable the campaign ran too long. The Breeders' Cup would mark her 10th start of the year. With Sistercharlie making her fourth start, she may peak in the Breeders' Cup.

Regardless, without knowing post positions or whether a final decision on Magical's appearance has been made, on paper Magical owns the class advantage. If Sistercharlie is to defeat such a filly, it will take her best effort, as Magical has run against the world's best turf horses. 

The Filly & Mare Turf has gone from a potential single to a decision that needs to be pondered quite a bit after the draw.


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Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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