Arguably the most definitive prep for the World Thoroughbred Championships Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf will be run Sept. 29. Depending on which nominees compete, the grade I, $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap could prove to be a mini Filly & Mare Turf.
The Flower Bowl and the Filly & Mare Turf are both at 1 1/4 miles on the turf, and both will be run at Belmont Park. Soaring Softly, winner of the first Filly & Mare Turf in 1999, used a victory in the Flower Bowl as a springboard. (The first two editions of the Filly & Mare Turf were run at 1 3/8 miles because of racetrack configurations.)
The 14 Flower Bowl nominees, in alphabetical order, are England's Legend, Janet, Kalypso Kate, Lady Upstage, Lailani, Preseli, Solvig, Spook Express, Spring Oak, Starine, The Seven Seas, Tout Charmant, Tweedside, and Voodoo Dancer.
Edouard de Rothchilds' 4-year-old England's Legend, winner of the grade I Beverly D. Stakes and the grade II New York Handicap in her last two starts, is the expected Flower Bowl favorite for trainer Christophe Clement. Voodoo Dancer, a 3-year-old filly who won the grade I Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont in her last start, also is trained by Clement.
On Sept. 18 at Belmont, England's Legend worked a sharp half-mile on the turf in :47.84. She's by Lure, a two-time winner of the Mile.
New on the U.S. scene is Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum's Lailani, a British-bred 3-year-old filly by Unfuwain. Lailani, trained by Edward Dunlop, broke her maiden in her third career start in April of this year, and proceeded to win her next five starts in Great Britain.
Lailani won the Vodafone Handicap, the grade I Kildangan Irish Oaks, and the grade I Vodafone Nassau Stakes in her last three starts. Of her six career wins, three have come at the 1 1/4-mile distance on the grass.