Juvenile Filllies: Bella Bellucci Liable to Improve

There is no question that You has proven the most so far among the nine entries in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). But the beauty of handicapping 2-year-old races is that some young horses improve by leaps and bounds in a matter of a few weeks, while others who matured may already have reached their best form.

I'm betting that's the case with You, the You and I filly who figures to be a solid favorite in the 1 1/16-mile race. She was an early winner -- albeit for a $50,000 claiming price -- at Churchill Downs June 1. She was purchased privately by Bobby Frankel and owner Edmund Gann after her second start, a loss to Cashier's Dream, and then she turned the tables on that fleet-footed filly twice, in the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) and Frizette Stakes (gr. I).

You was in complete control of the Frizette, and a repeat of that effort may be good enough to win the Juvenile Fillies. But it is hard to imagine she will be able to move up very far off that strong performance.

Frankel has said You does everything "like an older horse," meaning she isn't wasting energy in her morning workouts or learning the ropes.

The same can't be said of Godolphin's Tempera, an A.P. Indy filly that trainer Eoin Harty said needed to mature if she had any chance to win. Tempera chased unbeaten Habibti in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) Aug. 26, three weeks after a smashing nine-length win in the Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar. Rather than run her in the Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) during the Oak Tree meeting the former Bob Baffert assistant decided to train Tempera up to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Harty said Tempera is a filly with immense talent but whose mental maturity did not match her physical progress. He is an excellent horseman and it would not be a surprise to see her spring a surprise.

Another filly on the improve is Bella Bellucci, she was an expensive 2-year-old in training graduate in February who was turned over to one of racing's most patient trainers, Neil Drysdale. For Drysdale to put the daughter of French Deputy in the Juvenile Fillies off just two races suggests, both come-from-behind wins, suggests that he has a great deal of confidence in her. She won her maiden race at Belmont on Sept. 9 and then defeated a very good filling in Forest Heiress in her second start, the Astarita Stakes (gr. II) on Oct. 8.

Bella Bellucci has been training sensationally for the Juvenile Fillies.

Trainer Bob Baffert has had to play catch-up with the Tabasco Cat filly Habibti, who was a smart first-time winner in late July and came back to defeat Tempera in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I), coming from off the best. The filly was scratched from the Oak Leaf Sept. 30 because of a mild fever and Baffert missed a week of training with her.

She has trained solidly since going back to the track, but it's asking a lot of a young filly go into this tough spot with a hole in her training pattern.

Take Charge Lady and Shesastonecoldfox look like the speed in the lineup, though Shesastonecoldfox has shown her speed against lesser competition in the New York-bred ranks. Take Charge Lady, trained by Ken McPeek, looks to be a filly of class who may be difficult to run down.

The way I see the race, You will make the first run at Take Charge Lady, battling with her for the lead at the top of the stretch. While those two go head to head down the stretch, the gray Bella Bellucci will be gobbling up ground quickly from the rear of the pack with her long strides. She is my pick to improve the most on Oct. 27 and upset this year's Juvenile Fillies.