Major upcoming races for the female grass division are the grade III Noble Damsel Handicap at Belmont Sept. 22, the Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf at Kentucky Downs Sept. 23, the grade I Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap at Belmont and the grade I Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita Sept. 29, and the E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine Sept. 30.
Because the Filly & Mare Turf has been run only two times, it's hard to say there have been trends in the 1 3/8-mile event. But a few things have been established thus far: The race has drawn full fields of 14, and the fields have been pretty deep.In its first running in 1999 at Gulfstream Park, Soaring Softly won as the 7-2 favorite. At Churchill Downs last year, Perfect Sting, whose record was hard to find fault with, won as the healthy 5-1 second choice.As of mid-September, it appeared the Filly & Mare Turf would be contentious once again. It remains to be seen just how many Europeans will ship to New York, but one of them, 3-year-old Aquarelliste, has generated a stir overseas. She won the group I Prix Vermeille at Longchamp in France last weekend, and is now four-for-four in her career.In the United States, Tranquility Lake hasn't won a grade I event in 2001, but her California turf form puts her at or near the top of the contenders' list. She has won back-to-back grade II stakes at Del Mar, one on turf and one on the main track. Last year, she used the grade I Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita Park in early October as a springboard to the Filly & Mare Turf, in which she finished eighth.England's Legend, winner of the grade I Beverly D. Stakes; Astra, winner of the grade I Beverly Hills Handicap but ninth in Beverly D. on a yielding course she didn't relish; and 3-year-old Voodoo Dancer, winner of the grade I Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park, where the World Thoroughbred Championships will be held, are considered prime contenders should they be entered. England's Legend and Janet, winner of this year's grade I Ramona Handicap, would have to be supplemented at a fee of 9 percent of the $1-million purse.Hardly new on the scene but certainly one to watch is another 3-year-old, Snow Dance, who is now four-for-four on the turf in her career. Snow Dance won the grade II Lake Placid Stakes on the turf at Saratoga this summer in wire-to-wire fashion, and last week took the grade III Pucker Up Stakes on the turf at Arlington Park from off the pace. She just keeps getting better, and could be pointed to the Filly & Mare Turf. Another possibility for her is the grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland Oct. 13.