Updated on 09/17/2011 10:21PM

BC F&M Turf: Toner wouldn't mind if Wonder Again's send-off was all wet


Blue skies and bright sunshine have dominated the New York landscape lately, but with five weeks until the 22nd Breeders' Cup championships at Belmont Park, that could change in a big way.

In fact, nasty weather on Breeders' Cup Day could mean the world to veteran trainer Jimmy Toner. Toner doesn't like raining on anyone's parade, but his stable star, Wonder Again, excels on yielding turf.

"I think the weather's been just terrible lately," Toner, tongue firmly in cheek, said Wednesday by phone from his Belmont Park base.

Toner said the upcoming Flower Bowl Invitational and the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf will be the final two races for 6-year-old Wonder Again, whose dominating triumphs last year in the New York and Diana handicaps came over waterlogged courses. Wonder Again finished third in the Filly and Mare Turf last fall at Lone Star Park, and although winless in her three starts this year, "she's actually run pretty well on the regular ground," said Toner.

"It's not like we need any torrential downpours for her to be competitive," he said, "although obviously that'd be nice."

Toner said Wonder Again is "doing as well right now as she's ever done" and that he was pleased with the mare's Monday breeze over the Belmont turf, which came at five furlongs in 1:01.60, dogs up. Toner has planned a Sunday blowout for the Flower Bowl.

Wonder Again is one of a handful of top Filly and Mare Turf prospects who will have their final BC prep Saturday, Oct. 1, in the Flower Bowl on Belmont's Preview Day program. The Flower Bowl, to be run at the same 1 1/4-mile distance as the Filly and Mare Turf, clearly shapes up as the most critical prep. Other expected starters include Angara, Melhor Ainda, Sand Springs, and Film Maker.

The other key American preps for the Filly and Mare Turf will be the Oct. 1 Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita, with Megahertz as the likely favorite, and the Oct. 9 WinStar Galaxy at Keeneland, headed by Wend and Honey Ryder.

From Europe, trainer Sir Michael Stoute has pronounced Favourable Terms a likely Filly and Mare Turf starter after the 5-year-old mare made a successful return from a 13-month layoff by winning a small stakes at Doncaster in England on Sept. 8. Favourable Terms, a 5-year-old British-bred mare who won the Group 1 Nassau Stakes last year, has won 6 of 9 career starts. Stoute said the mare probably will have her final BC prep next weekend at Newmarket.

Earlier this week, trainer Edward Dunlop said Ouija Board, who won the 2004 Filly and Mare Turf as the odds-on favorite, will not run in the Flower Bowl as previously announced. Dunlop said Ouija Board will run instead Saturday in the 1 1/2-mile Princess Royal Stakes, a Group 3 race at Newmarket in England.

The major European prep for the Filly and Mare Turf comes in the Oct. 2 Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp in France. Alexander Goldrun is the likely favorite but is not being pointed to the Breeders' Cup.

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

1ShawandaA. de Royer-Dupre3-1
Seeks sixth straight win in Arc; if she comes, she'll be formidable
2Melhor AindaR. Frankel4-1
Proved she's as good as elders when an unlucky third in Beverly D.
3MegahertzR. Frankel6-1
Fast-closing second in Beverly D. showed she can ship successfully
4Luas LineD. Wachman8-1
It's this or the QE II; it should be this off how she won the Garden City
5AngaraP. Biancone8-1
Upset the Beverly D.; her form is darkened from attempts vs. males
6PunctiliousS. bin Suroor12-1
Yorkshire Oaks winner ran well when she shipped to Canada last fall
7Ouija BoardE. Dunlop6-1
Odds-on winner of this last year; her one race this year was dreadful
8Wonder AgainJ. Toner12-1
Was an excellent third in this last year, but has not inspired this year
9WendW. Mott12-1
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.