The Round Two Division of the ESR Queen of the Turf Challenge consists of three six horse field races, one from each of the opening round qualifying races, two second, two third, and two fourth place finishers. The Maiden Special Weight race will be run at One Mile over the Big Apple Turf Course. Only the winners will advance to the Contest Final.
This is the field for the Group B Semi-Final.
PRUE MCKEEL – the trotter1 trained 2 Year Old Light Grey Filly by Medaglia D’oro out of a Ghostzapper mare was the second place finisher in the Group B race, the second fastest race in the qualifying round; the KY-bred filly employed a strong closing kick to run down two of the three leaders but was unable to cut into the lead of ASHLEY FOR THREE, the co-favorite to win the ESR Queen of the Turf Challenge; benefitting from her debut, expect the promising filly to improve going forward and be a major player in the semi-final…dangerous
DESTROYA – only a half a length kept the sremel trained scratch-bred 2 Year Old Bay Filly by Giant’s Causeway out of a Kingmambo x Northern Dancer mare from participating in the Winner’s Bracket of Round Two; the KY-bred filly has the pedigree that champions are made of and battled every step of a three way speed duel, holding on stubbornly, only to lose a photo to the equally stubborn FRUITY PEBBLES; facing no early resistance here on Saturday, this talented filly could have things very much her own way…one to catch
ADURABLE – the frankster trained 2 Year Old Bay Filly by Duramente out of the stakes winning / graded placed EXCELLENTE (Excelebration) came from far back to finish third in Group C qualifier in what was the fastest of opening round races; the JPN-bred filly turned in a performance good enough to win other divisions of the opening round, but may need to be closer to the lead this time around in a race that appears to have very little pace…stretch threat
LOOKING FOR WAR – the kingab trained 2 Year Old Bay Filly by War Front out of stakes winning / graded placed mare WORLD STAGE (Frankel) was the third place finisher in the Group D qualifier, a race that saw two horses turn in suicide fractions during the early going; the KY-bred filly was closer to the pace than the two fillies that finished ahead of her, so might have to make her move sooner this time around to hold off the late comers while attempting to reign in the leader…needs smart handling
ADORIFY – the francua trained scratch-bred 2 Year Old Bay Filly by Lemon Drop Kid out of a Danehill Dancer x Halo mare is one of two francua trained fillies that have come from further back than any other fillies to make it to the second round; the late charging filly navigated her way from 18th place with a furious stretch drive only to finish 4th just 5-lengths back from the winner in the Group A qualifier; the KY-bred filly must avoid losing contact with the field in a race where five horses are likely to be chasing down the leader…must break alertly
KING OF THE ANDALS – the second of the francua entries, this a 2 Year Old scratch-bred Bay Filly by Diawa Major out of a Tanino Gimlet x Victory Gallop mare; the JPN-bred filly came from even further back in the Group F race, closing from 19th place to finish a close up 4th in the opening round; like her stablemate, this filly would also benefit by staying in contact with the leaders, but her strong closing effort in the pace-less Group F race suggests she is a best candidate to run down a horse loose on the lead…chance on best
Handicapping the Field
The Group B Semi-Final might be the toughest of the three semi-final matches, but also might provide the easiest to predict outcome. The impeccably bred DESTROYA faces no challengers on the front end and is unlikely to fall victim to the pace battle she encountered in the first round. She is going to be hard to catch even with modest resistance. This will be an unfortunate circumstance for runners like PRUE MCKEEL and ADURABLE who both ran races that might have been good enough to win a first round race if in another division.
LOOKING FOR WAR does have the tactical speed to be a factor in this semi-final, but she sat the best trip against torrid fractions in her first round and had no excuses.
ADORIFY and KING OF THE ANDALS will have to use up some energy early to keep on contact with this field. KING OF THE ANDALS debut was impressive because she cut into a dead pace and finished full of run.
DESTROYA she has to be caught and I just don’t see it here
KING OF THE ANDALS finished fastest of all in a pace-less affair
PRUE MCKEEL may have to settle for a minor share