Filly & Mare Turf Update (10/1): Preps in Kentucky, California

Janis Whitham's Affluent is scheduled to return to the races Oct. 5 in Keeneland's grade II WinStar Galaxy Stakes, one of the top final preps for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf Oct. 26 at Arlington Park. In California, last year's Filly & Mare Turf winner, Banks Hill, is set to go in the grade I Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita Park the same afternoon.

Affluent, away since her strong victory in the grade I John Mabee/Ramona Handicap July 27 at Del Mar, has been pointing toward the WinStar Galaxy, which in 2000 served as the final prep for Filly & Mare Turf winner Perfect Sting. Trained by Ron McAnally, Affluent is the highweight at 124 pounds in the WinStar Galaxy, a 1 3/16-mile turf event that lured a field of seven.

Flaxman Holdings' Surya, trained by Robert Frankel, is the 8-5 second choice in the morning line behind 7-5 Affluent. In her last start on the grass, Surya finished fourth to Affluent in the Ramona.

The Yellow Ribbon, California's final prep for the Filly & Mare Turf, drew a field of six to go 1 1/4 miles on the grass, the distance of this year's Filly & Mare Turf. It could produce at least a few World Thoroughbred Championships starters if all goes according to plan.

Juddmonte Farm's Banks Hill was scheduled to compete in the Sept. 28 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park, but the course came up soggy. The 4-year-old filly prefers hard ground, thus the trip to California for her final prep for trainer Andre Fabre.

Gary Tanaka's Golden Apples, who won the grade I Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Aug. 17 in her last start, hasn't run a bad one in eight starts since her trip from Ireland in 2001. She loves the Santa Anita grass and can be expected to provide her typical effort for trainer Ben Cecil.

Banks Hill and Golden Apples are tied at the top of the World Thoroughbred Rankings this week. Tied for third are Flower Bowl winner Kazzia and Islington, the multiple group I winner considered by some to be the top European threat. Starine and Voodoo Dancer, who's entered in the Yellow Ribbon, are tied for fifth in the standings, followed by a four-horse tie for seventh between Affluent, Aquarelliste, Gossamer, and Rebelline.

Clearly this weekend's races could make for some shift in those standings.

Fab Fiv Contenders:

1. Affluent/Ron McAnally/Janis Whitham
Next start: WinStar Galaxy Stakes at Keeneland Oct. 4

2. Golden Apples/Ben Cecil/Gary Tanaka
Next start: Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita Park Oct. 5

3. Islington/Michael Stoute/Executors of the Late Lord Weinstock
Next start: Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Arlington Park Oct. 26

4. Banks Hill/Andre Fabre/Juddmonte Farm
Next start: Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita Park Oct. 5

5. Aquarelliste/Elie Lellouche/Ecurie Wildenstein
Next start: Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Arlington Park Oct. 26