What to watch for: Early look at QE II, Canadian International fields

October 08, 2019 01:53pm
What to watch for: Early look at QE II, Canadian International fields
Photo: Benoit
Major Breeders' Cup preps may have wrapped up last weekend, but Grade 1 goals are still on the table for turf runners on Saturday with Keeneland's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) and Woodbine's Canadian International (G1) headlining.

Keeneland features three graded stakes races on the turf in all this week, with entries already set for Wednesday's Jessamine for 2-year old fillies going a mile and a sixteenth on the grass, as well as Friday's Franklin County Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares sprinters.

In the Jessamine, Brad Cox sends 2-for-2 freshman filly Jezebel’s Kitten postward in a full field that includes fellow stakes winner High of Gin for trainer Chasey Deville.

In the Franklin County, recent Presque Isle Downs Masters (G2) heroine Hotshot Anna comes into the race having won seven of her last eight starts, while Morticia is on the precipice of millionaire status. 

But it’s the race on Saturday in Lexington that will be getting most of the attention/

QE II Challenge Cup

Multiple graded stakes winner Cambier Parc looks like the QE II favorite after last seen capturing the Del Mar Oaks (G1) for top turf trainer Chad Brown. Ridden by John Velazquez, the Medaglia d’Oro filly sat well behind the early pace early in the nine-furlong event. She saved all of her energy for the stretch drive, emerging from the turn five-wide before exploding down the lane for a 1 1/2-length victory.

Stablemate Cafe Americano was one of the many winners in the Brown barn on Arlington Million day as she took the Pucker Up Stakes (G3). Having won three of her four career starts, she beat 10 other fillies, among them the Ken McPeek-trained Princesa Carolina, who's looking to turn the tables in the nine-furlong QE II.

Regal Glory rounds out the Brown contingent in the QE II, as the trainer is set to saddle three fillies in the race. This daughter of Animal Kingdom has won three in a row, including Saratoga's Lake George Stakes (G3) and the Lake Placid Stakes (G2) won in a dead heat with Varenka.

Varenka, also bound for the QE II, has won three of her four races this year, breaking her maiden in May then besting allowance company at Saratoga before her share of the Lake Placid. Trained by Graham Motion, the Ghostzapper looks to become a multiple graded stakes winner in only her third try at the level.

Rounding out the probables for the QE II are Carnival Colors, who won the Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs, and graded stakes winner Lady Prancealot.

Trainer Ian Wilkes will send the 6-year old gelding Nessy to the gate while looking to do the family proud again in this 12-furlong event. Two years ago, full brother Bullards Alley ran away in the Canadian International, and now it's time for another son of Flower Alley to give Woodbine's fall feature a go.

Nessy will face stiff competition from European invader Ziyad, who is coming in off a victory in the Grand Prix de Deauville (G2). The 4-year old gelding by Rock of Gibraltar won that race going a mile and nine sixteenths in August.

But it’s fellow European turf router and 2018 Canadian International winner Desert Encounter who should be the post time favorite as the 7-year old seeks his fourth consecutive win. He racked up group wins at Goodwood, Royal Windsor and Newbury over the last two months.

Desert Encounter took last year’s edition of this race in his first start in North America and returns on Saturday in hopes of winning the Canadian International in consecutive years for the first time since three-time winner Joshua Tree in 2012 and 2013.

Multiple graded stakes winner Tiz a Slam and graded stakes winner Pumpkin Rumble round out the major contenders.

Other graded stakes on the turf at Woodbine on Saturday include the E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1) for fillies and mares 3 and up going a mile and a quarter and the Nearctic Stakes (G2), a six furlong sprint for 3-year olds and up.


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