Updated on 09/17/2011 10:25PM

BC F&M Turf: With Angara atop a tough field, Flower Bowl the premier prep


Trainer Patrick Biancone starts getting a headache when he thinks about how the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park will affect the complexion of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

"I would need to be a wizard to figure out how it will all come out," said Biancone, who on Saturday will send Angara into the Flower Bowl as one of the main contenders. "The Breeders' Cup is still a month away. I would just like to win Saturday by a nose, a length, whatever. I don't care if the field is bunched together at the end or spread out. Let's just get through Saturday, then we can all start looking at the Breeders' Cup."

Whatever the result, the Flower Bowl figures to attract the closest scrutiny when the Filly and Mare Turf is run at the same 1 1/4-mile distance four weeks later. The fact that both races will be run over the Belmont turf course has helped attract what is easily the deepest field of all the Filly and Mare prep races. Besides Angara, who momentarily went to the head of the division in August when she won the highly competitive Beverly D. at Arlington Park, the Flower Bowl is also expected to draw Film Maker, Lune d'Or, Melhor Ainda, Riskaverse, Sand Springs, Secret Charm, Sundrop, and Wonder Again.

Angara has raced once since she prevailed over Megahertz, Melhor Ainda, and Wonder Again in a proverbial cavalry charge in the Beverly D. Biancone, saying he lacked a more suitable spot, chose the Sept. 10 Man o' War against males, and Angara wound up fifth after making a decent middle move.

"She needed to run," said Biancone. "I didn't train her much after the Beverly D., and I had to get a race in her before the Flower Bowl. She is going into this race at her best. I think I have the horse to beat Saturday."

The most intriguing newcomer in the Flower Bowl cast is Lune d'Or, a French filly who has been one of the more consistent, if not spectacular, older fillies in Europe this year. Based at Chantilly with Richard Gibson, Lune d'Or was a multiple group winner last year at 4 and has finished respectably without winning any of her three races this year, all against top-class company.

Two other preps with the potential of carrying substantial impact toward the Filly and Mare Turf will be run this weekend. Those races are the Yellow Ribbon at Oak Tree on Saturday, and the Prix de l'Opera on the Arc de Triomphe undercard at Longchamp on Sunday.

Megahertz, who tends to do her best in Southern California, figures as a heavy favorite in the 1 1/4-mile Yellow Ribbon. Only six or seven are expected, with Amorama perhaps the strongest challenger.

After this weekend, the only remaining prep that might produce a serious Filly and Mare Turf contender is the Oct. 9 WinStar Galaxy at Keeneland. Wend, the Claiborne Farm homebred who had a five-race win streak snapped when she ran sixth in the Beverly D., figures as one of the top choices in the Galaxy, which has been shortened to one mile.

Filly & Mare Turf Contenders
3-year-olds & up, fillies & mares, 1 1/4 miles (turf). Purse: $1 million.

1ShawandaA. de Royer-Dupre3-1
Has a very good chance to be first 3yo filly to win the Arc in 23 years
2Melhor AindaR. Frankel5-1
Proved she's as good as elders when an unlucky third in Beverly D.
3Ouija BoardE. Dunlop4-1
Odds-on winner of this last year seems to be back in good form now
4MegahertzR. Frankel6-1
Fast-closing second in Beverly D. showed she can ship successfully
5Luas LineD. Wachman10-1
It's this or the QE II at KEE; it should be this off how she won the Garden City
6AngaraP. Biancone8-1
Upset the Beverly D.; her form is darkened from attempts vs. males
7PunctiliousS. bin Suroor10-1
Yorkshire Oaks winner ran well when she shipped to Canada last fall
8Wonder AgainJ. Toner12-1
Was an excellent third in this last year, but has not inspired this year
9WendW. Mott15-1
Lost on turf for first time in Beverly D.; will have to do better than that
10Sand SpringsW. Mott15-1
Since she's in rare form, she just may be able to handle the distance
The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.