Ouija Board proved those who pounded her to 9-10 odds-on favorite correct in their thinking. What they probably didn't figure on were the incredibly slow fractions that she closed on to win the $1,410,000 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
There was much discussion by Ouija Board's owner, Lord Derby, and trainer, Ed Dunlop, whether to run the 3-year-old in the Filly & Mare Turf or John Deere Turf (gr. IT). She was cross entered but they opted to run against her own sex.
The winning time for the 1 3/8 miles over a yielding turf course was 2:18.25.
Moscow Burning set glacial early fractions (:26 2/5, :52 2/5) and looked for awhile like she might run away with the 11-furlong race. She went six furlongs in 1:18 2/5 and was still on an easy lead when they ran a mile in 1:42 1/5.
Dunlop said he was mainly concerned about how a cut-back in distance would affect Ouija Board.
"I was very concerned the first half because the pace was so slow. Kieren (Fallon) rode a great race and had her in the right spot and the result was just what we wanted. She stays in training as a 4-year-old."
Aubonne and Film Maker had been tracking Moscow Burning throughout but Aubonne finally backed up as Film Maker hung tough. Finally as the field turned for home, Fallon kicked Ouija Board on and she gobbled up the ground down the stretch.
"I was in the 'box' seat," Fallon said. "That's where I like to be with not too much ground to make up. This filly likes to follow a fast pace, but I knew there wouldn't be much pace here so we were saving ground on the rail. I was always confident. I knew she was the best filly and she proved herself."
Wonder Again, who figured to like the soft turf, also was gaining ground under Edgar Prado but they could not catch the top two, Ouija Board and Film Maker.
"All the credit in the world to the Europeans," said Film Maker's conditioner, H. Graham Motion. "They are very game and very sporting to come over and race against us. I think it's terrific. I believe my filly fit here today and I think she showed it."
The English and Irish Oaks (both group I) winner earlier this year who finished third against males in her last race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) at Longchamp on October 3, Ouija Board earned $733,200 for her fifth win in eight career starts. She has earned $1,671,768.
Heavily favored Ouija Board paid $3.80, $3 and $2.80, while Film Maker returned $9 and $6.60. Wonder Again paid $6.60 to show.
Ouija Board was bred in England by Stanley Estate and Stud. The 3-year-old filly is out of the Welsh Pageant mare Selection Board.
Moscow Burning was fourth, followed by Yesterday, Shaconage, Light Jig, Riskaverse, Super Brand, Katdogawn, Megahertz and Aubonne.
"I was so surprised with the pace I set," Valdivia said of Moscow Burning. "Jim (Cassidy, trainer) told me that if somebody wanted the lead, to let them go ahead, but if they didn't, for me to set my own pace. We were just at a high gallop around there. When I hit the half-mile pole, I said, `Come and catch me,' and started to quicken away. But it was still soft out there and she was struggling with it. But she is a game filly and she was still trying to run."