A field of eight 3-year-old fillies will line up to contest Saturday’s 35th running of the $500,000 Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. The race is run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf, while possibly serving as a prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. It will go off as the ninth race on Saturday’s 10-race program with a 5:30 p.m. ET post time. First post Saturday at Keeneland is 1:05 p.m ET.
Leading the field is multiple Grade 1 winner Rushing Fall, who is coming of a victory last time in the Grade 2 Lack Placid Stakes at Saratoga. Last year, she was a perfect three for three, while capturing the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf to round out her season. She has drawn the far outside post of eight for this race, with Javier Castellano signed on to ride once again.
Two other Grade 1 winners are in the field as well, which are Fatale Bere and Capla Temptress. Two races back, Capla Temptress was second to Rushing Fall in the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes, defeated by 2 3/4 lengths. She must rebound from a poor performance last time out, while breaking from post seven today. Julien Leparoux will have the mount for trainer Bill Mott.
Fatale Bere, the other Grade 1 winner in the field, comes into this race off of a neck victory in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks last time out. She also won the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes to start her 2018 season. Jockey Kent Desormeaux will have the mount for the third straight race as the filly will break from post three.
The full field includes: Nyaleti, Princess Warrior, Fatale Bere, Daddy Is a Legend, Mission Impossible, Secret Message, Capla Temptress, and Rushing Fall.
#8 Rushing Fall – The “Turf Rocket” is back! Rushing Fall rebounded from her first loss in the Grade 3 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs by romping last time out at Saratoga in the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes. The win made her 5 for 6 lifetime, while also displaying that she was back to top form in a major way. She returns to Keeneland today, where she won the Grade 2 Jessamine Stakes last year. Her normal effort should be enough to get the job done here, which could ultimately lead to a shot at the Breeders’ Cup next month.
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#1 Nyaleti – She is a very interesting entry in this race. Two races back, she shipped to Arlington Park to run in the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes, which was her first start in the United States. She took on older rivals in that race finishing 6th, while only getting beat by 2 3/4 lengths to winner Sisterchalie, who might be the best turf filly in the country. That sort of effort will make her competitive against this group, with that last race being a very difficult spot for her. There is a solid chance she can show improvement today as well, with this being her second start in this country.
#7 Capla Temptress – This filly will be looking for her first victory of the season. She finished second to Rushing Fall two races back in the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes, which was probably her best race this year. This distance seems to be where she runs the best, which gives her a solid shot at turning the tables in this race. A solid pace would also help. She is likely to drop to the back of the pack and make one big run down the lane.
#3 Fatale Bere – Last time out she picked up the biggest win of her career in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. After dropping behind early, Fatale Bere came with a giant run down the lane, getting up by a neck in the end at odds of 7-1. Two races back she tried Grade 1 competition on the east coast, with it not going quit as well, as she was 6th in the Belmont Oaks. This start at Keeneland will give us a good idea of where she is at when facing the better horses in this division.
#4 Daddy Is a Legend – This filly is no stranger to hitting the board. She has done so in 6 of her 9 career starts, including 3 of 5 times this season. Two races back at Saratoga, she took home the Grade 3 Lake George Stakes, which was the biggest win of her career. She followed that up with a third place effort last time out in the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes, where she was defeated by fellow rivals Capla Temptress and Rushing Fall.
#5 Mission Impossible – As always, it’s tough to know how these European shippers will do in their first United States race, with the conditions being completely different. Two races back this filly won a stakes race at Chantilly by 3/4’s of a length in France. She has won 4 of 9 starts overall, however, this year she has hit the board in just 1 of 4 races. This change in scenery may actually be something that is needed.
#6 Secret Message – Since switching to the turf she has a win and two second place efforts in four starts. Two races back she won the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes at odds of 6-1. That race earned her a shot in the Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes next time out, where she finished a solid second. Now, she has to step up in competition in a major way, which may be a bit too tough for her.
#2 Princess Warrior – This horse has wins on both the dirt and the turf during her career. The turf seems to be where she has the best chance to win a race of this caliber based on past performances. She is going to need a hot pace here to have a chance, though, which does not look to be likely. She will drop back and try to make one run at the end.