The last four editions of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) were won by the favorite even though the races had an anything-can-happen look to them. That look is back this year, thanks in part to a new variable: the synthetic surface.
The Juvenile Fillies drew an almost shocking number of pre-entries--24--but given the state of the division, it's probably not a stretch. After all, a maiden won the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) in only her second career start, so owners and trainers may be approaching the race with a free-for-all mentality.
Cash Included, owned by J. Paul Reddam, has topped the weekly poll since her Sept. 30 victory in Oak Leaf Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. I) during the Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park meet. The reason is simple: The Include
filly defeated Point Ashley, who had won the Sept. 4 Del Mar Debutante Stakes (gr. I) and became the early favorite for the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies. Point Ashley wasn't pre-entered, however.
Horses that last competed in California have won five of 22 Juvenile Fillies--and only one of the five held at Churchill Downs--versus eight for New York and five for Kentucky. But the week before the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup World Championships, it appeared the Golden State shippers would command strong attention.
The months leading up to this year's event, however, produced some unusual results. Here are a few:
* The Aug. 6 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies Stakes, an $85,000 event run for the first time last year, has produced two grade I winners--Appealing Zophie (Spinaway) and Meadow Breeze (Matron)--as well as Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Cohiba Miss. (Meadow Breeze wasn't pre-entered in the Juvenile Fillies.)
* The first and third finishers in the Oct. 6 Alcibiades on the new Polytrack at Keeneland were exiting maiden events on Turfway Park's Polytrack; Bel Air Beauty, who was defeated in her first start, won the Alcibiades, while Her Majesty, a winner against colts in her debut at Turfway, finished third.
* Undefeated Dreaming of Anna has taken an intriguing route to the Juvenile Fillies with a victory at 4 1/2 furlongs on the dirt in her debut at Arlington Park, a win versus males in the 5 1/2-furlong Tippett Stakes on the grass at Colonial Downs, and another win versus the boys at one mile on the turf in the Summer Stakes (Can-IIIT) at Woodbine.
In her subsequent start, Appealing Zophie was unplaced in the Alcibiades after setting the pace in her first race around two turns. Her effort, however, was typical of the Keeneland Polytrack in that wire-to-wire winners were a rarity during the meet.
Sutra, winner of the one-turn Frizette (gr. I), never has raced around two turns, though trainer Mike Stidham said his plan was to race the filly around one turn before the Juvenile Fillies.
Trainers have indicated workouts or races on Polytrack help set up horses for dirt races. Thus, there will be interest in the performance of the fillies that competed in the Alcibiades, as well as some others. About half of the fillies pre-entered in the Juvenile Fillies have either raced or have been training on a synthetic surface.
Cash Included got a vote of confidence from her trainer after the Oak Leaf victory at 1 1/16 miles. Craig Dollase said the filly "looks like the real deal" and may "just get that much better next time."
Reddam, who purchased Cash Included privately after her maiden score, could have the favorites in both juvenile events on Cup day. The California-based businessman also owns Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) winner Great Hunter, whom he purchased on the advice of advisers after the colt made two starts at Lone Star Park.