It was just a year ago when Martin Schwartz watched his champion filly Zagora beat back Marketing Mix to win the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT). Schwartz did his best rendition of an Irish jig in celebration, but that might be nothing compared to the footwork he will employ if Alterite were to give him a second Filly & Mare Turf trophy Nov. 2 back at Santa Anita Park.
Alterite is just a 3-year old-who will be making her third start in seven weeks since coming across the pond from her native France, and she has wasted no time in making her mark. She won the Garden City Stakes (gr. IT) handily and was an unlucky second in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. IT) in her last out after a wide trip, her closing kick falling a neck short to Kitten's Dumplings.
Schwartz' spirits were high for a repeat as he watched his filly gallop on the main track on Halloween. Standing next to trainer Chad Brown as Alterite motored by, Schwartz asked, "Chad, is she happy here? Can she order in French food?"
Alterite is a juicy 10-1 on the morning line, in part because she is facing elders. But the Filly & Mare Turf will be her sixth in grade/group I company, she gets a four-pound allowance, and she also reminds her owner of another filly who ran pretty well at Breeders' Cups in Arcadia.
"She's got a nice head on her, like a chess piece," said Schwartz. "She also dances like Zenyatta. She can be a little nervous coming into the paddock and she does a little two-step."
Like Zagora, Alterite was found and purchased out of Europe by bloodstock agent Michel Zerolo, who for years found grass runners for Bobby Frankel. Alterite was bred by Herve Morin, at one time France's secretary of defense.
"We made him an offer he couldn't refuse," said Schwartz.
Although he has had a short time to get acquainted with Alterite, Brown is most enthused about what he's seen.
"She has Zagora potential," said Brown, who is seeking the same double as Schwartz after having trained Zagora to victory. "She has a ton of talent and is a beautiful horse. She has everything I'm looking for when she came to us from Europe. She should be very top-class here. She's training super.
"The differences from Zagora last year are that we only got Alterite in July and she's 3. I had Zagora for a couple of years, so I had a pretty good line on her and she ran a different campaign getting to the Breeders' Cup. With Alterite we're squeezing three races into seven weeks, but I wouldn't run her back on short rest unless I thought she had a good shot.
"The similarities are that she's a filly with a ton of talent, just like Zagora, and she's owned by Martin. He has a good system for finding these horses. You just have to figure out your short-term goals and your long-term plans and see if you can make it all work."
Whatever happens Nov. 2, Alterite will be kept in training next year.
"We have big goals, and I'm all about racing," said Schwartz, who has also been representated by Stacelita and Angara in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Alterite has won four of her 11 lifetime starts. She is by Literato out of a Dream Well mare.