After two straight weeks of Breeders Cup prep races, the action slows down a bit but we still have a pair of very good races for three year old fillies on turf, led by the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland, as well as the ungraded Pebbles at Belmont Park. We’ll look at those two races in this post.
We’ll start at Keeneland, where there was Friday news involving this race. #7 Wuheida (4-1), a definite contender for Charles Appleby who has run in five straight European Group 1 races, will scratch.
That still leaves us with a strong field of 10.
Keeneland Race 9 – Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup – Let’s go through the field.
#1 Con Te Partiro (30-1) won at Ascot for Wesley Ward at 20-1 and was beaten by 1 3/4 lengths in the Del Mar Oaks but three rivals in today’s race. Con Te Partiro doesn’t have any early speed and got a nice inside/out trip in that last one. She’s overmatched.
#2 Proctor’s Ledge (9-2) won both the Lake George and Lake Placid at Saratoga and has gotten very good over the summer. We especially liked her Lake Placid, her most recent race, where she did not get a fast pace but made a strong wide move and ran on to win nicely. She’s been the horse that has been improving the most over the summer and will be our pick. Trainer Brendan Walsh is good freshening up his in-form turf horses – he’s 5-17 with a $3.96 ROI with last out turf winners on 40-80 day layoffs.
#3 Daddy’s Lil Darling (20-1) crushed the field in the Dueling Grounds Oaks last time but that was a very weak field. Still, her previous turf start, in the Belmont Oaks, wasn’t bad – she was only beaten a little over two lengths and had a tricky trip in the Florida Oaks, her only other turf start. She’ll be a big price and we’ll use underneath.
#4 Dream Dancing (6-1) comes into this race out of a win in the Del Mar Oaks where she got a great trip off a pace that fell apart. She’s another that doesn’t have any early speed (she was on the very slow pace in the Wonder Again because someone had to be) and think she’s probably a cut below the top ones, though she can hit the board.
#5 Unforgettable Filly (20-1) had something go wrong last time (perhaps she bled as she gets Lasix for her first US start), and won a German Group 2 two-back, but she feels a bit overmatched here.
#6 La Coronel (6-1) was at the top of the division at the beginning of the year but hasn’t run especially well in her two starts since returning from Royal Ascot. Even if you give her a pass for her first start back in the Lake Placid, she set a very slow pace and led by two lengths in the stretch of the Sands Point last time and lost the lead. It is noteworthy that she is 2-2 at Keeneland, but we’ll take the opinion that she is not as good as she was at the beginning of the year.
#8 Madam Dancealot (15-1) is the horse we want out of the Del Mar Oaks, as she was trying to rally inside of runners and had to wait for a seam at the top of the lane, while Dream Dancing and Beau Recall came wide and ended up bobbing at the wire. She did run well to win the San Clemente, albeit with a big pace. We’ll use underneath.
#9 Beau Recall (12-1) ran her best speed figure last time out, with a good trip, in the Del Mar Oaks. She maybe didn’t have the best trip but was beaten soundly by New Money Honey in the Belmont Oaks after getting stuck behind the good speed horse Sircat Sally in her previous starts. She’s a little interesting, but she’s probably a cut below. She’s another we’ll use underneath.
#10 Uni (9-2) ran OK in the Belmont Oaks, her first US start, but picked up the tempo in her last two, a solid second to Proctor’s Ledge in the Lake Placid and a nice win behind the moderate pace set by La Coronel in the Sands Point. She is, however, drawn poorly here and that is a concern, though we consider her the second most likely winner behind Proctor’s Ledge.
#11 New Money Honey (4-1) is the likely favorite from the far outside. She skipped the turf stakes at Saratoga to run on dirt in the Alabama, which didn’t work out, but is 4-6 on the grass including wins in the Belmont Oaks and the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last year. Still, her last two wins were with picture-perfect trips, she is going to have to run her fastest face to win here (as the favorite from a bad post) and she ran her worst race on this track back in April. There’s enough to overcome that we’ll oppose here here.
The Play – We’ll play Proctor’s Ledge to win and a few exactas and triefectas with her finishing first or second. We’ll also try to keep La Coronel and New Money Honey out of the exacta.
50-cent trifecta – 2 / 3, 8, 9, 10 / 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 ($10.50)
50-cent trifecta – 3, 8, 9, 10 / 2 / 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 ($10.50)
Belmont Race 9 – Pebbles Stakes
This race, unlike the QEII at Keeneland, is much less open. To us, it looks like a race where you pick one Chad Brown horse between #2 Rubilinda (8-5) and #3 Thais (5-2).
Rubilinda is 2-3 with her one loss coming with a very tough trip. She stretches to a mile here after a big run in the six-furlong Christiecat Stakes on opening day of the fall meet in which she ran down a loose leader. Here, she has to stretch out to a mile, which shouldn’t be a big problem but who’s to say she is going to be as effective, and she’s going to be a very short price.
We prefer Thais, who was a good second in her US debut in a Saratoga allowance race on September 2nd. In that race, she was wired by a solid older horse in Malibu Stacy, who took advantage of the speed/inside favoring turf course at that time of the meet. Thais was able to save ground much of the way but picked her way through some traffic and never got clear on the outside. She was still moving very well late behind the wire to wire winner. We’ll take her to upset, though we’d obviously use both her and Rubilinda in a multi-race play.