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This Saturday’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (G1) might not be an official Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, but a few horses entered here could use the event as such. A solid field of 9 will battle in race 9 on the card, which has a local post time of 5:30 PM.
The Arnaud Delacour-trained Magic Attitude will looked to make it a perfect 2-for-2 in the United States after winning the Belmont Oaks (G1) last time out. The filly has won 3 of 7 starts overall, including the Prix Vanteaux (G3) earlier in the year at Longchamp. She will break from post 4 for this test with Javier Castellano back aboard.
Kentucky Downs runners have been looking strong in their next starts lately, a trend that Micheline hopes to continue this Saturday. Last time out, she closed nicely for a record-setting win by a neck in the Exacta Systems Dueling Ground Oaks. She’ll break from post 7 with Florent Geroux aboard for the first time.
One of the classiest entries is Sweet Melania, who won the Jessamine Stakes (G2) over this surface last year. She opened up her 2020 season by winning the Wonder Again Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park, then finished second by a nose last time out in the Lake George Stakes (G3) at Saratoga. Flavien Prat will have the mount for the first time when breaks from post 2.
The full field from the rail out includes Harvey’s Lil Goil, Sweet Melania, Antoinette, Magic Attitude, Lucky Betty, Hendy Woods, Micheline, California Kook, and Red Lark.
#4 Magic Attitude – This filly made a huge impression in her United States debut last time out, rallying from last to easily take home the Belmont Oaks (G1) in stylish fashion. That effort was visually impressive and the speed figures came back fairly strong. A repeat effort should earn her another victory in this more difficult spot. She’s the logical pick, but she probably isn’t a single.
#1 Harvey’s Lil Goil – Turf seems to be her best surface. She picked up an impressive win at this distance while making her surface debut in the Regret Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. After going back to dirt and finishing third in the Alabama Stakes (G1), she returned to turf and finished second in the Exacta Systems Dueling Ground Oaks. This race sets up well for her running style and makes her very dangerous.
#2 Sweet Melania – After getting upset last time out in the Lake George Stakes (G3), the Todd Pletcher trainee will look to rebound at Keeneland. She’s never finished out of the money in 8 lifetime starts, showing her class and consistency, and with the right trip, she’ll get back into the winner’s circle here.
#7 Micheline – We’ll see if this filly can keep it going in the right direction setting a new course record in the Exacta Systems Dueling Ground Oaks at Kentucky Downs. That race was ultra-impressive, but her other efforts haven’t always been up to that level. She’s a defensive play.
#9 Red Lark – The upset winner of the Del Mar Oaks (G2) ships to Keeneland for the first time, trying to ride that momentum for an even bigger victory. This filly seems to be getting better with each start, which gives her a chance, but there is no doubt that this is a tougher spot.
#3 Antoinette – It’s likely that she’ll set the pace again here after doing so in her last 2 starts, with mixed results. She led all the way around the track 2 starts back to win the Saratoga Oaks by a 1/2-length, then finished second to Magic Attitude in the Belmont Oaks (G1) while employing the same tactics. With more pace signed on here than what she faced last time it might be hard for her to turn the tables on our top pick.
#6 Hendy Woods – Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse always seems to get the best out of his runners at Keeneland, which makes this filly dangerous. She has a stakes win on her resume and finished a solid second to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) champion Sharing in the Edgewood Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. She could be improving at the right time to pull off an upset in this spot.
#5 Lucky Betty – In this race, it’s hard to label any runner as a throw out. Her solid turf resume includes an allowance win 2 starts back before finishing third in the Edgewood Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. She has the numbers and class to compete with this group.
#8 California Kook – This southern California runner ships to Keeneland after finishing fourth in the Del Mar Derby (G2) last time out while facing males. She has come very close to winning a stakes this season, but the waters get a bit deeper for her in this race.
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