The winners of each of the first six rounds of the ESR Queen of the Turf Challenge will meet for the first time in the $100,000 ESR Queen of the Turf Stakes. Although all of these fillies will participate in the final round of the 7500 Credit Added Challenge, only one will reign supreme and bear the distinction of Horse to Beat in the Final.
The Winners Bracket Stakes feature is for Two Year Old’s and will be run at the Big Apple racetrack at One Mile over the Turf Course.
ASHLEY FOR THREE – the kingab trained 2 Year Old Bay Filly by Dubawi is out of the stakes winning/stakes producing mare DREAMING OF ASHLEY (Dynaformer); the ENG-bred was the winner of the Group B race and tied for the fastest speed figure with the Group C winner ADRENALINA for the Turf Mile with an impressive 87-speed figure in her debut; while her Dam recorded all six of her career victories, including a stakes, while sprinting, her first offspring, DEEP THREE, was proficient in both sprints and routes and recorded multiple stakes victories traveling around two-turns; it appears this filly has similar attributes to her half-sister and should be considered co-favorite in the ESR feature…major player
ADRENALINA – the ivanyamil trained 2 Year Old Light Grey Filly by American Patriot out of an Exchange Rate mare impressed in the Group C qualifier recording the fastest speed of the six qualifying races with a 1:36.95 for the Mile; the JPN-bred filly weaved her way through a wall of horses displaying a powerful stretch drive before drawing away from the field of twenty in the qualifier; although this filly’s pedigree does not match her dominant debut, she has risen above 117 other fillies entered in this competition earning the distinction of…one to beat
IOS CADET – leading every step of the way in the Group F division of the ESR Queen of the Turf Challenge was the cadet trained 2 Year Old Bay Filly by Maxios out of a Harlan’s Holiday mare; despite recording the slowest time of the six qualifiers, the GER-bred was in full command on the front end of her qualifier and was never challenged by any of her 19 rivals throughout the running of the race, making her the easiest kind of winner with plenty reserve left in the tank; the fleet-footed filly is likely to meet some resistance in the Winners Bracket this time around, but appears to be quickest from the gate which may prove to be a bigger issue for her pace setting rivals…one to catch
ANIMAL WELFARE – the frankster trained 2 Year Old Bay Filly by Animal Kingdom out of stakes winning/graded stakes producing mare LONDON OPERA (Nathaniel) was very impressive in her qualifier, wearing down the leader in the early going, taking over as they turned for home and drew away the easiest kind of winner recording an 83-speed figure for the effort; the KY-bred’s half-sister FB OPERA, recorded her first Graded victory over the weekend painting a promising future for the understudy and certainly sheds a different light on this filly’s chances here on Saturday…dangerous
FRUITY PEBBLES – there was probably nobody more surprised than the irisharse connections when his New York-bred 2 Year Old Brown Filly by Here Comes Ben, out of a stakes placed mare SAND PEBBLES (Saint Liam), held off the late charge of several fillies to capture the Group E division of the ESR Queen of the Turf Challenge by a stubborn half-length; the home track local was equally impressive with her 85-speed figure and displays a stubborn stretch demeanor making her a formidable opponent here on Saturday…persistent
SET PIECE – lastly, is the donnyb trained 2 Year Old Bay Filly by Orfevre out of the stakes placed mare PERFECT SET (Oasis Dream); the JPN-bred filly took the scenic route in her Group D victory taking full advantage of the fast early fractions, closing from far back in the and pack finishing full of run as she drew past ANGEL NUMBER EIGHT and LOOKING FOR WAR, both of whom started their closing drives in front of her…stretch threat
Handicapping the Field
My first impressions of the six fillies in the winner’s bracket was that, aside from ASHLEY FOR THREE, none of the top qualifiers had the lofty pedigrees that so many of the 118 fillies that participated in this contest…food for thought…Pretty obvious to me is that any of these six fillies can emerge from this race victorious, and I’d venture to say if this race was run on six different occasions there might be a different winner each time.
IOS CADET certainly looks like the filly to catch here but was never challenged in her debut and is likely to be pressured early from both ANIMAL WELFARE and FRUITY PEBBLES. The pace scenario sets up for the closing runs of ASHLEY FOR THREE, who is likely to be sitting right off the pace, ADRENALINA, who closed the last quarter in 24.4, and SET PIECE who kicked home in 24.3.
SET PIECE – benefits from a fast pace and could outstep his rivals once again
ADRENALINA – also benefits from her late closing kick
ASHLEY FOR THREE – should have dead aim on the leaders