09/21/2008 9:44PM

3F Title Talk

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Eclipse4
The three most accomplished 3-year-old fillies of 2008 all raced on one of the last two Saturdays, but not against one another. Instead, they went their separate ways at very short prices: Music Note won the Gazelle Sept. 13 at 1-20; Indian Blessing won the Gallant Bloom at $2.70 Sept. 20; and Proud Spell was 2-5 when she ran second to Seattle Smooth the same day in the Cotillion.

If the racing season ended today (perish the thought), who would deserve the 3-year-old filly championship? It's a squeaker.

Download IndianBlessing.pdf

Download MusicNote.pdf

Download ProudSpell.pdf


Indian Blessing and Music Note have never been in the same starting gate, but each has split a pair of decisions this year with Proud Spell. Music Note leads in Grade 1's by a 3-2-2 tally (Mother Goose, CCA Oaks, Gazelle) over Proud Spell (Kentucky Oaks, Alabama) and Indian Blessing (Prioress, Test); but all three of Music Note's came at Belmont, and her three Gazelle victims did not include a stakes-winner of any kind.

At gunpoint, I think I'd vote for Proud Spell -- Kentucky Oaks-Alabama is a powerful pair, and the memory lingers of her victory over Music Note in the latter -- but you can put down the gun. There's the race-that-should-still-be-called-the-Distaff still to be run. Music Note is likely, though Proud Spell's camp is understandably undecided about more synthetic racing given her subpar effort on Keeneland's Polytrack in the Ashland. Either way, while either would of course win the divisional title with a Ladies' Classic victory, that may be a tall order in a year when Zenyatta, Ginger Punch and Hystericalady are still on the scene.

As for Indian Blessing, she's headed for the BC F&M Sprint, where she'll have to beat Intangaroo to nail down the Eclipse as the nation's champion filly sprinter. Intangaroo has won all three of the Grade 1 races this year for older fillies at seven furlongs, and from coast to coast: the Santa Monica at Santa Anita, the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs, and the Ballerina at Saratoga. If she takes the fourth, the F&M Sprint, how can you deny her the title? While Indian Blessing is more brilliant and has run faster figures, her two Grade 1's were against 3-year-olds.

If Indian Blessing won the F&M Sprint and neither Music Note nor Proud Spell ran or ran well in the LC, Indian Blessing might get some support for the 3-year-old filly title as well, a la Xtra Heat in 2001. (Back then, though, there wasn't a filly-sprinting Eclipse.) There may also be at least some token support for Eight Belles.

[Update 9/22: Proud Spell is in the clubouse: She's done for the year.]