Banks Hill Heads Flower Bowl Field

Banks Hill, the winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), will prep for this year's running in Saturday's $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont.

Eleven months ago, Juddmonte Farms' Banks Hill came to Belmont for the Filly & Mare Turf having run strong efforts agains top older males in France. She won her Breeders' Cup race and in four starts since -all against males -she has come away with just one victory.

"There aren't many group I races for older fillies and mares in Europe, so she's got to run against males, which is tougher," trainer Andre Fabre said. "Going up against just fillies and mares makes it easier for her."

Rain is an issue for Banks Hill, as Fabre said if the course was too soft, she could be sent to California to prep for the Breeders' Cup. Fabre had no concerns about the 1 1/4-mile distance over firm going, but soft ground is another story.

"A mile and a quarter is a bit too far for her at Ascot, but it is less testing over America's firmer courses," Fabre said. "We're trying
to prepare her to emulate her success in the Breeders' Cup last year. We're praying for no rain."

That prayer was not being answered Thursday, with rain in New York and more forcast for Friday.

Godolphin Racing's Kazzia won two of the premier races for 3-year-old fillies in England, the 1000 Guineas (Eng-I) and English Oaks (Eng-I). She has won from seven furlongs to a mile and a half, but suffered her first defeat in the Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I) against older rivals Aug. 21.

"She's a very talented horse and she's done everything we've expected," said Godolphin assistant Tom Albertrani. "The most important thing right now is being able to handle the older fillies and mares. She likes to be in front. Hopefully she can dictate the pace."

Edouard de Rothschild's England's Legend appears to love soft turf. Her only American starts over off ground came at Arlington Park where she won the Beverly D last year and the Modesty this year.

England's Legend does her best racing on or near the lead and almost wired the field in the 2001 Flower Bowl. She disappointed in the Breeders'
Cup Filly & Mare Turf, fading to 11th after setting the pace.

Frankel has entered another pair for the Flower Bowl, Starine and Surya, but they will race as an uncoupled entry. Starine was third in the 2001 Flower Bowl and 10th in the Breeders' Cup. Surya recently won the Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup, which came off the turf. Earlier this
season, she won the Royal Heroine at Hollywood Park.

Tarfshi and Turtle Bow both come from Europe. Tarfshi has won two of four starts this year, while Turtle Bow was last seen a close third in the French Oaks.

The Flower Bowl will go as race eight while the Jockey Club Gold Cup is race nine of a 10-race card. Both races will be included in
Belmont's guaranteed $500,000 Pick 4, and both will be shown Sunday during NBC's live coverage of the grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational, which begins at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

The field, in post order:

Tarfshi, 120, Edgar Prado
Kazzia, 118, Jorge Chavez
Sunstone, 118, Shaun Bridgmohan
Mot Juste, 118, Richard Migliore
England's Legend, 118, Jerry Bailey
Banks Hill, 123, Olivier Peslier
Surya, 118, Kent Desormeaux
Turtle Bow, 115, Christophe Soumillon
Starine, 120, John Velazquez