Trainer Bob Baffert will be trying to buck 17 years of history when he sends Habibti postward in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). A Kentucky-bred daughter of Tabasco Cat racing for Saudi Arabian Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp., Habibti will come into the World Thoroughbred Championships unbeaten but with only two starts. The chestnut filly hasn't been postward since winning the seven-furlong Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) on Aug. 26, giving her a full two months between races.
No Juvenile Fillies winner has had more than five weeks off or fewer than three career starts coming into the Breeders' Cup.
Habibti's layoff wasn't planned. She was entered in the Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Sept. 30 but was withdrawn when she came up with a mild fever the previous morning. While her temperature returned to normal within 24 hours, Baffert took a conservative approach with Habibti, walking her for a week before she resumed training on Oct. 6.
The Thoroughbred Corp. paid $450,000 for Habibti at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Edmund Gann's You is the probable favorite for the Juvenile Fillies after her thrashing of Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) winner Cashier's Dream in the Frizette Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Oct. 6. You sat just off Cashier's Dream's quick pace, then pulled away to win by 6 1/4 lengths. She ran the 1 1/16 miles--the same distance as the Juvenile Fillies--in 1:43.94.
The Frizette was You's second straight victory after being purchased privately by trainer Bobby Frankel on a recommendation by Mark Reid, a former trainer and now a bloodstock agent. You raced twice for her breeder, Dolphus Morrison, winning first out in a $50,000 maiden claiming race and then finishing second to Cashier's Dream in a Churchill Downs allowance race. In her first start for Gann, You defeated Cashier's Dream in the Aug. 13 Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga, then beat her again nearly two months later.
If You takes the Juvenile Fillies, she will be the seventh winner to have used the Frizette as her final prep, including the last two to have won when the Breeders' Cup was in New York: My Flag in 1995 and Meadow Star in 1990.
Keeneland's Walmac International Alciabides Stakes (gr. II) has been used as a final prep by four winning fillies, including three of the last four: Cash Run in 1999, Silverbulletday in 1998, and Countess Diana in 1997.
This year's Alcibiades winner is Take Charge Lady, a Dehere filly who ran her record to three-for-three for Select Stables and trainer Ken McPeek. Take Charge Lady won at first asking at Keeneland in April, then was rested until the fall, when she went wire to wire to take an allowance event at Turfway Park. She won the 11Z16-mile Alcibiades by a length, coming from just off the pace. Another unbeaten filly is Michael Tabor's Bella Bellucci, a long-striding gray filly by French Deputy who closed strongly from far off the pace to win the Astarita Stakes (gr. II) on Oct. 8, one month after breaking her maiden in similar fashion. Trainer Neil Drysdale said the filly galloped out after the race as if the extra distance of the Juvenile Fillies would be to her liking. Bella Bellucci is a full sister to a grade I winner in Japan, Kurofune, and at $925,000 was the second-highest price at this year's Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of 2-year-olds. She is cut out to be a good one.