The lone grade I of the weekend, the Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup Saturday at Keeneland, saw a field of nine 3-year-old fillies entered for the 1 1/8-mile turf event.
If it wasn't for Dublino, Michael Bello's Megahertz would be six-for-six in 2002. After winning three stakes races in a row at Santa Anita, the daughter of Pivotal captured the Honeymoon at Hollywood Park. The Bobby Frankel trainee finished a half-length behind Dublino in the inaugural running of the American Oaks, but was awarded the victory by the stewards after being severely impeded by her nemesis in the stretch.
Dublino got even with Megahertz in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT), beating her a desperate nose. It is safe to say that Bello and Frankel would have preferred that international bloodstock agent Emmanuel de Seroux leave Dublino in Europe after her purchase instead of sending her to his wife's stable in the United States.
Alex Solis has won four stakes on Megahertz and will fly to Lexington from California to ride her in the Challenge Cup.
Laura de Seroux has opted to train Dublino up to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT), but has another star up her sleeve to hassle Megahertz in Little Treasure. Owned by Sidney Port Trust, Liberty Road Stable, and San Gabriel Investments, the daughter of Night Shift is undefeated in North America, taking the San Clemente (gr. IIT) at Del Mar and the Pucker Up at Arlington.
Rene Douglas rode Little Treasure to a wire-to-wire victory in Chicago. Kent Desormeaux, who was aboard for her San Clemente win will be reunited with her on Saturday.
Joan and John Phillips' Wonder Again brings a four-race winning streak into the QE II including victories in the Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park and the Lake Placid Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga. Trainer James J. Toner has kept the daughter of Silver Hawk in peak form all summer. Edgar Prado, who is a perfect four-for-four on Wonder Again, will attempt to win his sixth stakes race of the fall meeting in the Challenge Cup.
Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, who won the QE II with Janice Whitham's Affluent last year, has shipped Arnold Zetcher's Alozaina to Keeneland for this year's event. The daughter of Perugino posted an impressive workout on the Keenland turf course last Sunday and has run well on soft grass courses in Italy. Pat Day, who was aboard for her breeze, has taken the call in search of an upset.
English trainer John Gosden will saddle Juddmonte Farm's Zenda. An unlucky loser to international superstar Sophisticat at Royal Ascot in her last start, the homebred daughter of Zamindar has only been off the board once in six starts. She also has run well on soft turf and her regular rider Richard Hughes will make the trip for the mount.
The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, in post order:
Riskaverse, Mark Guidry
Little Treasure, Kent Desormeaux
Showlady, Richard Migliore
Wonder Again, Edgar Prado
Distant Valley, Craig Perret
Zenda, Richard Hughes
Alozaina, Pat Day
Lush Soldier, Robby Albarado
Megahertz, Alex Solis