Filly & Mare Turf Preview (9/18): Europeans Take Aim

The Filly & Mare Turf Division will pick up in earnest again with three key races: the grade I Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap Sept. 28 at Belmont Park, the grade II WinStar Galaxy Stakes Oct. 4 at Keeneland, and the grade I Yellow Ribbon Handicap Oct. 6 at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park.

In the meantime, some Europeans have prominent placement on the World Thoroughbred Championships rankings, including Juddmonte Farm's Banks Hill (second in a tie with Golden Apples at 121); Exors of the late Lord Weinstock's Islington (fourth in a tie with Starine at 120); Godolphin Stable's Kazzia (sixth in a tie with England's Legend and Voodoo Dancer at 119); and Ecurie Wildenstein's Aquarelliste, the Leigh family and Cancerbacup's Gossamer, and Lady O'Reilly's Rebelline, all tied in ninth with 118.

The leader on the rankings list is the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's Astra at 122.

On Sept. 15 at Longchamp, Aquarelliste returned to the races after a month and a half to win the group II Prix Foy Gray d'Albion Barriere for trainer Elie Lellouche. The 4-year-old Danehill filly defeated Anabaa Blue by a length in the almost 1 1/4-mile turf event for 4-year-olds and up.

Aquarelliste, winner of two group I events last year, began her 2002 season with a victory in the group I Prix Ganay at Longchamp, also against colts.

Also on Sept. 15 at Longchamp, Bright Sky finished third in the group I Prix Vermeille Hermitage Barriere de la Baule at almost 1 1/4 miles on the grass for 3-year-old fillies. The Wolfhound filly earlier this year won the group I French Oaks at Chantilly, and finished second in the group I Prix Saint Alary at Longchamp.

Rebelline is three-for-three this year, with all of her races having come against colts.

On the workout front, Joseph Allen's Volga, fourth in grade I Beverly D at Arlington Park in August, went four furlongs in 49:52 at Belmont Park Sept. 16. Volga used a closed second-place finish in the grade I-Canadian E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine as a springboard for her appearance in the Filly & Mare Turf last year.