Updated on 09/16/2011 8:29AM

BC Countdown - Juvenile Fillies: Stute chases Cup after 14-year lull


It has been 14 years since trainer Mel Stute has run a horse in the Breeders' Cup. But, given Stute's track record in the series, his filly Buffythecenterfold is not to be readily dismissed in the $1 million Juvenile Fillies.

Stute is 2 for 5 in the Breeders' Cup, recording wins in the 1986 Juvenile Fillies with Brave Raj and the 1987 Sprint with Very Subtle. Stute's last Cup appearance was in 1988 when Very Subtle finished fourth when bidding for a repeat in the Sprint, and Double Quick finished fifth in the Juvenile. Only Tomorrow's Child, who finished last in the 1987 Juvenile Fillies, has failed to bring home a check.

"I just haven't had that kind of horse [recently]," said the 75-year-old Stute, who in December 2000 underwent heart bypass surgery. "I guess I've been in a slump. I only have 14 horses now to train; most of them are Cal-breds. [Buffythecenterfold] kind of became a miracle."

Buffythecenterfold is a Kentucky-bred daughter of 1986 Juvenile winner Capote. She has won 3 of 5 starts, including the Grade 3 Landaluce and Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes. Buffythecenterfold finished fifth in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, but had missed some training due to a virus after the Sorrento.

A second-place finish behind Composure in the Grade 2 Oak Leaf combined with a solid workout last weekend at Santa Anita convinced Stute to shoot for the Juvenile Fillies.

"I told everybody I think she's better than [Brave Raj] or Very Subtle," Stute said. "She's so fast. The thing with her is keeping her sound. She's a big filly."

Stute said he fell in love with Buffythecenterfold at the Keeneland September sales in 2001, but knew he didn't have an owner willing to put up big money. After the yearling was bought back by her consignor, Stute told owner Allen Brian that it would cost $80,000 to get her. Brian shocked Stute by agreeing to come up with the money, even though a prospective partner on the deal backed off at the last minute.

Following her victory in the Sorrento Stakes, Frank Stronach purchased 70-percent interest in Buffythecenterfold, who is named after Buffy Tyler, a former Playboy Playmate of the Month.

Stute, who trained 1986 3-year-old champion Snow Chief, is looking forward to the trip to Chicago and a chance to get back in the public consciousness. Stute has three times been nominated to racing's Hall of Fame, but has not been voted in yet.

"I would like to get in,' Stute said. "They say if she should win, I might have a shot.'

As he has shown, Stute always has a shot in the Breeders' Cup.

- Westerly Breeze, the upset winner of the Grade 2 Alcibiades in her last start, worked five furlongs in 1:02.80 Wednesday at Churchill Downs. Regular rider Robby Albarado was up for the move. Trainer Carl Nafzger said he wasn't looking for much.

"She's had a race, she's fit,' Nafzger said. "She ran hard in her last race. I just want her finishing.'

Nafzger said he would probably work Westerly Breeze again next week and van her to Arlington on Oct. 24.