10/11/2005 11:00PM

BC F&M Turf: The 'other' contender from the U.K. gets final prep in QEII


If a horse from the United Kingdom were to capture the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the most plausible winner would be Ouija Board, the defending champion who is based in England.

In the last several months, however, a horse from Ireland has emerged as a viable prospect for the Filly and Mare Turf: Luas Line, a 3-year-old filly who will try to earn a Breeders' Cup berth Saturday as the likely favorite in the final Filly and Mare Turf prep, the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

Luas Line is based in County Tipperary with David Wachman, a 34-year-old trainer who has worked with horses his entire adult life. Wachman already has sent Luas Line to the United States twice this year, and the results were encouraging. She finished fourth behind Cesario and Melhor Ainda in the Grade 1 Hollywood Oaks in July, then returned last month to post an impressive victory in the Grade 1 Garden City BC at Belmont Park.

Between those U.S. starts, Luas Line was an easy winner of two listed stakes at Cork and Gowan Park on her home circuit in Ireland. Wachman has marveled at Luas Line's progress this year.

"Some fillies go forward and some go back," said Wachman. "She is definitely going forward. Her improvement has been very steady."

Luas Line, owned by Evelyn Stockwell of County Tipperary, will be ridden Saturday in the QEII by John Velazquez, who rode her in the Garden City. She is one of at least two QEII fillies (Karen's Caper, trained by John Gosden, is the other) whose connections have said they will move on to the Breeders' Cup with a good effort. Seven 3-year-old fillies are expected for the QEII.

Luas Line recently has trained over the new Polytrack surface at Turfway Park with Patrick Biancone. Wachman will travel Friday to Kentucky.

As for Ouija Board, who remains the 5-4 favorite for the Filly and Mare Turf with the British bookmaking firm William Hill, she tentatively is scheduled to be flown to the U.S. on Oct. 24, according to the International Racing Bureau. At least two other English fillies, Mona Lisa and Favourable Terms, are definite for the race, and another, Sundrop, is possible, according to Simon Crisford, manager for her owner, Godolphin.

From the U.S., trainer Bobby Frankel said Intercontinental, winner of the Grade 2 WinStar Galaxy last weekend at Keeneland, is now "50-50" for the Filly and Mare Turf. Jerry Bailey or Rafael Bejarano would ride her, said Frankel.

Frankel also said from New York that he will keep Megahertz, the 5-1 second choice with William Hill, "back in California as long as I can. The weather is so bad here right now." Frankel also has Melhor Ainda in training at Belmont for the Filly and Mare Turf.

From California, trainer Ben Cecil said he does not intend to ship Flip Flop, the runner-up to Megahertz in the Yellow Ribbon, cross-country for the Filly-Mare. Meanwhile, trainer Julio Canani has not completely ruled out Amorama, nor has Bill Mott ruled out Wend.

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

1Ouija BoardE. Dunlop2-1
Odds-on winner of this last year seems to be back in good form now
2Wonder AgainJ. Toner6-1
Near miss in Flower Bowl was her best race of year; set for big effort
3MegahertzR. Frankel3-1
Crowd favorite made it 7 wins from her last 11 starts in Yellow Ribbon
4Luas LineD. Wachman10-1
She's going in the QE II at Keeneland, and then might run back in this
5Film MakerH. G. Motion12-1
Tries hard in every start; remember, she was second in this last year
6RiskaverseP. Kelly15-1
Won Flower Bowl for second straight year, this time at a monster price
7Mona LisaA. O'Brien15-1
Have seen stronger O'Brien horses, but was a good second in last
8WendW. Mott12-1
Okay second in WinStar Galaxy at a shorter distance than she prefers
8Melhor AindaR. Frankel8-1
Moved early in Flower Bowl; subsequent fade was a disappointment
10AngaraP. Biancone20-1
Dull effort in the Flower Bowl, and looks to be going the wrong way
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.