By Anthony Stabile
FILLY & MARE TURF
$2 million; 1 ¼ miles (T); 3up(f&m)
When it comes to the Breeders’ Cup, many will split the time passed by the days of the Original Seven and the two day extravaganza it has turned into. Somewhere in between, however, came the birth of this fantastic event.
Ouija Board won it in 2004 and 2006 and was stopped by Intercontinental in 2005 when she was second. Her two wins are among the six that the Euros have managed to snatch away from the states, whose runners have won the other nine running. Favorites have won one third of the 15 runnings.
This year, Dank will look to join Ouija Board as the only other two time winner of the event when she takes on a full field in search of the repeat. Her presence did little to scare the competition away as 17 horses were pre-entered with 14 allowed to run.
Perhaps the lack of fear on the part of opposing connections from the limited and disappointing form Dank brings into to this years’ renewal as opposed to last year when she won three graded stakes, including the G1 Beverly D at Arlington, before her Cup score. A third place finish in the G1 Dubai Duty Free in March and the G1 Prince of Wales where she finished fifth, both against the boys, are her lone two starts of the year for trainer Sir Michael Stoute. She’s kept company with the likes of Just a Way, The Fugue, Magician and Treve but is nowhere near the mare she was coming into this as she was last year, on paper, anyway.
After contemplating a run in the Mile, trainer Willie McCreery has decided to run G1 Matron Stakes winner and fellow Euro Fiesolana in here instead. Her Matron score is her lone win from six tries this season and she will be trying a distance of more than a mile for the first time in well over two seasons.
Just the Judge was third in two of her three starts in Europe before turning it on upon her U.S. arrival for Charles Hills with a solid third place finish in the G1 Beverly D and a G1 E P Taylor tally at Woodbine last out. She’ll be running off less than two weeks rest.
Stephanie’s Kitten may be America’s best hope in here as she finally found the winners’ circle for the first time in over a year when she kicked home strongly to win the G1 Flower Bowl last her, her first win in five starts this year. After a pair of inexplicable sub-par performances, Stephanie’s Kitten showed signs of regaining her old form with runner-up finishes in both the G1 Diana and Beverly D prior to her latest effort for Chad Brown.
Brown’s other entrant, Dayatthespa, comes in off a New York bred stakes win and a powerful score in the G1 First Lady at Keeneland last out where she avenged her narrow defeat from last season. This will be her first start at the distance and has never raced at a distance beyond nine furlongs.
Emollient set the pace in this event as a three-year-old last season before eventually fading to fourth while beaten just a length. She won for the first time in six starts this season in her third trip out west when she got up to take the G1 Rodeo Drive at this trip over this course when trainer Bill Mott added blinkers for the first time.
Secret Gesture and Tarfasha comprise the rest of the Euro contingent for this. Trained by Ralph Beckett, Secret Gesture has hit the board in all four starts of the year and won a minor stakes three starts back. Tarfasha is the lone three-year-old running but handled older in the G2 Blandford at the Curragh in Ireland two starts back for Dermot Weld.
Abaco won the G2 Ballston Spa two back before a second place finish in the Flower Bowl last out for Shug McGaughey. Miss Serendipity has won two of her eight starts this year, the G1 Gamely and G2 Yellow Ribbon, for Ron McAnally but finished far back in the Rodeo Drive. Parranda was second in both the Yellow Ribbon and Rodeo Drive for Jerry Hollendorfer but has won three graded stakes against a bit lesser company earlier this year.
Chicquita going in the Turf, L’Amour de Ma Vie running in the Distaff and Veda opting for the Mile, the door has opened up for Irish Mission, Rusty Slipper and Stormy Lucy. Trained by Christophe Clement, Irish Mission dead-heated for third in the Rodeo Drive after taking the Glens Falls at Saratoga. Graham Motion’s Rusty Slipper was the other half of the Rodeo Drive show dead-heat and won the G3 Violet at Monmouth earlier this year. Stormy Lucy is winless in four starts for Ed Moger, Jr. after winning the G2 Santa Ana and G3 Santa Barbara.