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Feature Race Analysis

  Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes – Grade 1
  Race 9 at Keeneland
  Saturday, October 13 - Post Time 5:21 PM E.T.
  One Mile and One Eighth, for Three-Year-Old Fillies
  Purse: $400,000

Graded Stakes Winners Samitar, Stephanie’s Kitten Do Battle in Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

By Ellis Starr - National Racing Analyst for Equibase

     The 29th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup field consists of eight fillies, with six of them having finished third or better in stakes races in their most recent races. Leading the group is Grade 1 Garden City Stakes winner Samitar, but also in the field is Garden City runner-up (by a head) Somali Lemonade. and third-place finisher Tannery. Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes winner Stephanie’s Kitten is back in the form that saw her win the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and could be very tough, while Lake Placid runner-up (by a half-length) Centre Court, who won the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes prior to that, wouldn’t need much improvement to win the Queen Elizabeth II. Dayatthespa brings a four-race win streak into the Queen Elizabeth II, dating back to January, including the Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes on the Keeneland turf in April and therefore has local positive experience many of these lack. Better Lucky missed to Centre Court in the Lake George before a poor effort in the Lake Placid. Last but certainly not least, Treasured Up may have been best in her most recent race when third in the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes as she rallied from 11th of 12 to miss by under a length.

     Treasured Up ran huge in her most recent race when fourth in the Pucker Up Stakes. She rallied from 11th of 12 in the early stages to get into position to win with a quarter mile to go but had to wait for room to run at that critical stage of the race. Treasured Up eventually got clear and closed very fast to miss by three-quarters of a length after being seven lengths behind the leader with an eighth of a mile to go. Earning a career best 103 Equibase Speed Figure while getting the last one-eighth of a mile in a sizzling 11 seconds, Treasured Up showed enough that, if she has a trouble free trip in this shorter field, she can post the upset to win this race.

     Tannery made her U.S. debut and her first start after nearly two months off on Sept. 15 in the Garden City Stakes when rallying from last to get third at the end with a strong 111 figure. Having won the Group 3 Kilboy Estate Stakes right before coming to the U.S. at the distance of the Queen Elizabeth II, Tannery has as much right to improve in her second U.S. start as Samitar did in her second U.S. start last month (when victorious in the Garden City Stakes) and so must be strongly respected as a contender to win the Queen Elizabeth II.

     Stephanie’s Kitten won the Lake Placid Stakes in her most recent start in spite of suffering from some traffic trouble in the late stages, earning a 103 in the process. Two races before that, she finished well to win the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs. Stephanie’s Kitten has been freshened for nearly two months since the Lake Placid and with John Velazquez aboard for her last four wins and in the saddle today there’s every reason to believe Stephanie’s Kitten can get the job done once again.

     The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, is Better Lucky (108), Centre Court (108), Dayatthespa (106), Samitar (113) and Somali Lemonade (113). Truthfully, none of these have big knocks and all have potential to win with their best efforts, which should make this an exceptionally good race to watch and wager on.


My Selections:
  •    Treasured Up
  •    Tannery
  •    Stephanie’s Kitten

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