Updated on 09/16/2011 9:03AM

Banks Hill's Cup goal unclear


Banks Hill returned to her winning ways with an authoritative victory in the one-mile Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, France on Sunday, raising questions about whether her Breeders' Cup target will be the Mile or a defense of her Filly and Mare Turf title.

After the race, Teddy Beckett, French stable manager for Juddmonte Farms, said that Banks Hill's ultimate objective would be "a race on Breeders' Cup Day."

With trainer Bobby Frankel having committed Beat Hollow to the Mile, Juddmonte racing manager Dr. John Chandler had unequivocally stated on Saturday that Banks Hill would seek a repeat of her Filly and Mare Turf title at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.

There is no doubt that Banks Hill must have good or firm ground to be at her best. She finished third on soft ground in last year's Marois, and although she was promoted to second with the disqualification of Proudwings, she has since been scratched from the Prix de l'Opera and the Prix d'Astarte because of soft going.

Sunday, she was always holding runner-up Domedriver clear through the final 150 yards, finishing 1 1/2 lengths in front. The pacesetting Best of the Bests was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third with recent Group 2 winners Turtle Bow fourth and Tashawak seventh. The winning time for the straight mile was 1:35.19 on good ground.

Beckett also said that Banks Hill would have just one more start before her Breeders' Cup assignment. That could be the one-mile Prix du Moulin de Longchamp on Sept. 8 or the 1 1/4-mile Prix de l'Opera on Oct. 6, although by that time of the year the ground is usually soft at Longchamp.

The victory of the 7-5 Banks Hill was her first in three tries since her Filly and Mare Turf success. Rather surprisingly, it was also the first Group 1 victory for her trainer, Andre Fabre, since the Breeders' Cup.

Three races before the Marois, Fabre unveiled a budding star, Intercontinental. A 2-year-old full sister to Banks Hill and Dansili, Intercontinental was on her way to an easy win in the 6 1/2-furlong Prix de la Potiniere for juvenile fillies making their debuts, but she swerved right near the line to reduce her margin of victory over Aaliyah to three quarters of a length. Juddmonte-bred and owned, Intercontinental will probably be stepped up to group race company for her next start.