Across the Board: Putting Breeders' Cup fillies in focus

By Steve Davidowitz
October 22, 2018 11:06am
With so much focus on the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic and $4 million Breeders' Cup Turf, not enough attention is being paid to the fillies and mares who are going to compete in the five other divisions designed to attract some of the world’s best female racehorses. 

On Friday, Nov. 2, for instance, there will be a pair of Breeders' Cup races that will exclusively feature female racehorses:
 $2 million Juvenile Fillies 
 $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf

On Saturday, Nov.3, there will be three more championship races for fillies and mares: 

 $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint
 $2 million Filly & Mare Turf
 $2 million Distaff

When horseplayers examine the fields for the two Breeders' Cup races for fillies and/or mares that will be run on the grass, history suggests that the most logical contenders tend to show a clear preference for turf racing, or at least strong grass breeding, and a trainer who tends to specialize in grass racing. It is equally true that many of the top contenders and past winners of these turf races ship in with strong performances in high-class European turf stakes. 

For instance, in last year’s Juvenile Turf, the European-based Mendelssohn -- trained to perfection by one of Europe’s best, Aidan O’Brien -- used a good prep race in England to score a solid victory at 4-1 odds over a closely matched field. 

Likewise, in 2017’s Filly & Mare Turf, which was temporarily run at 1 1/8 miles, the European-based Wuheida actually broke her maiden after four relatively good efforts in important Grade 1 turf stakes in France, Ireland, Germany and Great Britain. Her trainer, Charlie Appleby, may have been somewhat unfamiliar to American horseplayers. Yet, Breeders’ Cup history clearly states that such European-based turf performers and their relatively unknown trainers invariably deserve a close look. 

Given that, I strongly urge players to wait until actual entries and past performance records are publicly known for this Nov. 3 race that will be run this year at 1 3/8 miles. I will be just as patient and will wait to publish my thoughts until Breeders' Cup Friday. In the meantime, here are some of my thoughts on a few of the very best female horses who seem ready to compete strongly in important Breeders' Cup races.

Beyond the filly Enable, I see at least five legit female contenders among the large field scheduled to compete in the Filly & Mare Sprint to be run at seven furlongs on the main track. They are: the Bob Baffert-trained Marley’s Freedom and her stablemate, the 3-year-old old Dream Tree; recent California stakes winner Skye Diamonds; Florida-based Stormy Embrace; and Steve Asmussen-trained Union Strike, a last out Grade 2 winner.

In addition, as we edge closer to the richly enhanced Breeders’ Cup, I recommend keeping an eye out for Belle Laura, a candidate for the Juvenile Fillies who will go into this race with a previous victory at one mile on Churchill’s turf course. Another filly to watch is Paved, an improving 3-year-old filly from California who's a logical threat if entered in the Filly & Mare Turf.

Steve Davidowitz has written many books on handicapping, including the classic, "Betting Thoroughbreds." His Across the Board columns appear regularly at Horse Racing Nation. Davidowitz will also host a free Breeders' Cup handicapping seminar the evening of Nov. 2 at the Sunset Station Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas.


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