Ten of the best three-year-old turf fillies in the world will contest the 18th running of the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup (gr. I) to be run Saturday at Keeneland.
The field is headed by Green Hills Farm's Voodoo Dancer. An impressive winner of the grade I, Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap in her last start for trainer Christophe Clement, the daughter of Kingmambo will be ridden by Corey Nakatani who has piloted her to two stakes victories this year.
Challenging Voodoo Dancer will be Golden Apples, who was purchased privately by trainer Ben Cecil for owner Gary Tanaka. Golden Apples returned an immediate dividend on the investment when she captured the grade I Del Mar Oaks in her stateside debut. The lightly- raced daughter of Pivotal closed strongly off slow fractions and proved much the best over many of today's rivals under Garret Gomez, who will fly in to ride.
John C. Oxley's Snow Dance brings a four-race winning streak into the QE II. The John T. Ward trainee took the grade III Pucker Up at Arlington Park in her last start showing a newfound versatility. Crai Perret, who has never lost a race on her, will be in the irons.
The QE II field from the rail out: Sweetest Thing (James McAleney), Light Dancer (Lonnie Meche), Snow Dancer (Perret), Casual Feat (Larry Melancon), Golden Apples (Gomez), Voodoo Dancer(Nakatani), Ing Ing (Robby Albarado), Reine de Romance (David Flores), Affluent (Delahoussaye) and Live Your Dream (Pat Day).Baptize To Be Favorite in Franklin
Saturday's co-featured $75,000-added Franklin showcases 3-year-old colts running a mile on the lawn. Gary and Mary West's Baptize will probably be the post time favorite. Winner of the grade 2 Hall of Fame Handicap at Saratoga in August, the son of Dynaforme exits a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap last out. Mark Guidry will ride for trainer Bill Mott.
Christophe Clement will send out Melillo and Melillo, Jr.'s Act of Reform who has finished in the money in his two 2001 starts, both of them stakes. Corey Nakatani takes the call on the comebacking son of Lit de Justice.
Contesting the Franklin: Deeliteful Irving (Delahoussaye), Butterfly Boy (Gomez), Sandlot Star (Pat Day), Wudantunoit (Marlon St. Julien), Speed Gun (Jon Court), There's Zealous (Robbie Albarado), Act of Reform (Nakatani), Baptize (Guidry) and Silver Spear (McAleney).