With the Breeders’ Cup now less than a week away, I’m starting to go over the form of the European shippers for the juvenile turf races. In particular, I have been taking a close look at the racecourses that each horse has run at, searching for horses that have shown good form around tight turns similar to the ones they will encounter at Keeneland. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far for the Juvenile Fillies Turf:
Alice Springs – Five of her six races have come on straight courses, with the lone exception being the Silver Flash Stakes (Eng-III) at Leopardstown, which features a sweeping left-handed turn. She finished second of nine in that race, beaten 1 1/4 lengths as the even-money favorite. In her races on straight courses, she’s proven herself to be a solid group I runner, finishing third in the Moyglare Stud Stakes (Eng-I) and fourth in the Chevely Park Stakes (Eng-I).
Illuminate – She’s compiled a great racing record, winning the Albany Stakes (Eng-III), Duchess of Cambridge Stakes (Eng-II), and finishing second in the Cheveley Park Stakes (Eng-I) (see replay above), but she has raced exclusively on straight courses, and will be making her debut on a turning course in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. She’s also never run farther than six furlongs, and while she’s obviously very talented, I’m planning to play against her in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Last Waltz – This is definitely the European filly that interests me most in this race. Three of her four starts have come on straight courses, but her lone win — a decisively 3 3/4-length victory in a seven-furlong maiden race — came at Roscommon, which has a sharp right-handed turn. Last time out, she finished a very close third behind the well-regarded Coolmore in the Weld Park Stakes (Ire-III) at the Curragh, and since that race, she’s been sold and transferred to the barn of Chad Brown, and it sounds like she’s training very, very well at Belmont. She’s definitely a filly that I will use in multi-race wagers.
Mirage – She won her debut over a left-handed course at Brighton, then was transferred to the barn of Simon Callaghan and sent to California, where she finished third with a troubled trip in the Surfer Girl Stakes at Santa Anita.
Nemoralia – She ran well going left-handed in the Frizette Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont, but Belmont’s turn is much wider than the turns she will encounter in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Her lone race over a turning course in England came in a seven-furlong maiden race over the all-weather course at Kempton, which is a right-handed track that’s roughly the same size as Belmont Park.
J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.