10/04/2005 11:00PM

BC F&M Turf: Unexpected Flower Bowl result enhances Ouija Board's aura


Somebody guard the gates. In no small part because of the confounding results of the Flower Bowl Invitational on Saturday, the American contingent for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf suddenly looks vulnerable to another European invasion.

In fact, the latest odds released for the Filly-Mare Turf by the British bookmaking giant William Hill lists Ouija Board as the prohibitive 5-4 favorite, with no American horse lower than 6-1. Of course, there is a homeland bias favoring the British-bred Ouija Board, who won the Filly-Mare Turf last year at Lone Star Park at odds-on, but surely the scrambled result of the Flower Bowl at Belmont Park has helped to encourage visions of a repeat.

Indeed, the Flower Bowl was supposed to help clarify the Filly-Mare Turf picture, but all it did was muddy it. Riskaverse won at 35-1, followed closely by her familiar rival Wonder Again at 6-1. Film Maker was third at 13-1, while Sand Springs pretty much proved the 1 1/4-mile distance of both the Flower Bowl and Filly-Mare Turf is too far for her, as she faded to fourth as the 5-2 second choice.

Still, as many as five of the Flower Bowl starters could wheel back four weeks later in the Filly-Mare Turf: the first three finishers, along with Melhor Ainda, who was seventh as the 8-5 favorite, and Angara, whose last-of-nine finish seemed too bad to be true.

Bobby Frankel, trainer of Melhor Ainda, said he is still seriously considering the Filly-Mare Turf, while Patrick Biancone said he intends to point Angara, the Beverly D. winner, to the race.

Meanwhile, Frankel had to be happier with what happened later on Saturday at Oak Tree, when Megahertz solidified her status as a local legend by going last to first in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon. Regardless of her sensational record in Southern California, Megahertz will have to prove that her consistency and brilliance translates to a different sort of turf course when she runs next at Belmont.

From Europe, Mona Lisa, the Aidan O'Brien filly who was second behind 70-1 winner Kinnaird in the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera on the Arc de Triomphe undercard Sunday at Longchamp in France, is likely for the Filly-Mare Turf, according to the International Racing Bureau. Among the Europeans who recently have dropped out of contention are Shawanda, who suffered a pelvic injury when finishing sixth in the Arc, and Punctilious, the highly regarded Godolphin filly.

Still, a handful of Euros remain under consideration, according to the IRB, and surely the most notable of those is Ouija Board, trained by Edward Dunlop. Although hindered by a series of nagging ailments and injuries through most of this year, she signaled a return to peak form by easily winning a Group 3 race on Sept. 24 at Newmarket. Frankie Dettori rode her in that 2 1/2-length triumph and will have the mount for the Breeders' Cup.

A Filly-Mare Turf victory by Ouija Board or another European horse would further their dominance in the race. Euros have won 3 of the last 4 runnings: Banks Hill in 2001, Islington in 2003, and Ouija Board last year.

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. Kelly12-1
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
8Melhor AindaR. Frankel8-1
Moved early in Flower Bowl; subsequent fade was a disappointment
9WendW. Mott15-1
Lost on turf for first time in Beverly D.; will have to do better than that
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.