Looking to join Ouija Board as the only two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT), Forever Together is the likely pick in the $2 million event sponsored by Emirates Airline. The race is to be contested Nov. 6 at Santa Anita Park, where Forever Together registered a three-quarters of a length win in come-from-behind fashion one year ago.
Ten fillies and mares were pre-entred in the 1 1/4-mile event. Dar Re Mi, who earned a starting spot in the Filly and Mare Turf via her win in the Audi Pretty Polly Stakes (Ire-I) at the Curragh in June, would battle with Forever Together for favoritism, if she runs. But her connections -- Andrew Lloyd Webber and trainer John Gosden -- have first preference for the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) against males.
Trained for George Strawbridge's Augustin Stable by Jonathan Sheppard, 5-year-old Forever Together has won two of five starts this year. The daughter of Belong to Me is coming off a third-place finish in Keeneland's one-mile First Lady Stakes (gr. IT), a race she won last year as part of her Eclipse-Award-winning campaign. She has followed nearly the exact same path to this year's Breeders' Cup, including a victory in Saratoga's Diana (gr. IT).
|Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf|
|A history of the Filly & Mare Turf.|
A win in the 11th renewal of the Filly and Mare Turf would put Forever Together in the company of the superstar Ouija Board, who captured the event in 2004 and 2006.
"That would be something, wouldn't it, to win this race twice," said Sheppard. "Of course, we will have had the advantage of racing over the same course two years in a row.
"I think she's just as good this year as she was for last year's race," Sheppard added. "I've been very happy with her. She's been a little bit unlucky in a couple of her races where things did not set up for her quite as well as we hoped."
Strawbridge has a second pre-entry in the Gosden-trained Rainbow View, but the runner-up in Woodbine's E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT) is likely to wind up in the BC Ladies' Classic (gr. I).
Besides Dar Re Mi and Rainbow View, the only other European-based challenger is Khalid Abdullah’s 3-year-old Midday, convincing winner of Goodwood's Nassau Stakes (Eng-I) and most recently third in the Prix de l'Opera (Fr-I) for trainer Henry Cecil.
Magical Fantasy, winner of the Yellow Ribbon (gr. IT) and Dynaforce, who captured the Beverly D. (gr. IT), were Breeders' Cup Cup Challenge Series winners.
The 4-year-old Magical Fantasy, trained by Paddy Gallagher, has reeled off three grade I wins in a row. She qualified for the Breeders' Cup by winning Oak Tree's Yellow Ribbon (gr. IT) over the course and distance in 1:59.59 on Oct. 10.
Juddmonte Farms' Visit, fourth under the wire in last year's Filly and Mare Turf (elevated to third due to the disqualification of original third-place finisher Wait a While because of a medication violation), led in the stretch of the Yellow Ribbon, but had to settle for second, a half-length behind Magical Fantasy. Group I-placed in Great Britain before shipping to the U.S. for last year's race, Juddmonte Farms' Visit is still missing her first North American win after nine tries.
Also pre-entered after running in last year's race are Dynaforce (eighth, moved to seventh), and Pure Clan (10th, moved to ninth).
On the fence after Dynaforce finished off the board in Belmont Park's Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT), trainer Bill Mott said he decided to pre-enter her after watching her breeze Oct. 21. Dynaforce experienced traffic problems in the stretch run of last year's race.
"She had a bad break and was jammed up in the stretch, otherwise she would have been right in the mix," Mott said.
Pure Clan is back after an authoritative win in the Flower Bowl.
"She came out of the race real good and she's only raced four times this year," said trainer Robert Holthus, who has Garrett Gomez lined up to ride. "She ran bad in the Breeders' Cup last year, but she was just a 3-year-old. We don't know what happened that day; she just never got into the race. But we want to take another shot."
Rutherienne, a 10-time stakes winner who has not raced since winning the one-mile Noble Damsel Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park Sept. 19, joins the field from the Christophe Clement barn.
A surprise pre-entrant was the 3-year-old Maram, who was thought to be headed to the Ladies' Classic the same day. But trainer Chad Brown opted for the turf event one year after Maram captured the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf over the course.
$2 Million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT, 2:23 p.m. PT), 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles
Horse, Owner, Trainer
Dar Re Mi (GB), Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, John H.M. Gosden
Dynaforce, Dr. John A. Chandler, William I. Mott
Forever Together, Augustin Stables, Jonathan E. Sheppard
Magical Fantasy, David Bienstock; Paul Mandabach; Charles Winner, Patrick Gallagher
Maram, Karen N. Woods; Saud bin Khaled, Chad C. Brown
Midday (GB), Juddmonte Farms, Henry Cecil
Pure Clan, Lakland, Robert E. Holthus
Rainbow View, George Strawbridge Jr., John H.M. Gosden
Rutherienne, Virginia Kraft Payson, Christophe Clement
Visit (GB), Juddmonte Farms, Robert J. Frankel