11/02/2011 11:45AM

Breeders' Cup: Four unbeatens square off in Juvenile Fillies

Barbara D. Livingston
Weemissfrankie is one of four unbeaten fillies in the field for Friday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – It would be too simplistic to label Friday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies a showdown between the East Coast’s My Miss Aurelia and the West Coast’s Weemissfrankie. The race goes deeper than that.

Akin to the NCAA basketball tournament, the top seeds from all regions will be represented when a field of 14 enters the gate for the Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs. The Juvenile Fillies is the eighth race on the card (6:10 p.m. Eastern post) and the fourth of six Breeders’ Cup races to be run Friday.

My Miss Aurelia and Weemissfrankie are two of four undefeated fillies attempting to navigate 1 1/16 miles over a track that none of the 14 has previously raced over. Grace Hall, who is 3 for 3 including the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga, and Rocket Twentyone, 2 for 2, are the other unbeatens.

By virtue of her dominant 5 1/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park on Oct. 8, My Miss Aurelia stamped herself the likely favorite in the Juvenile Fillies. In the Frizette, at one mile, My Miss Aurelia displayed good early speed and demonstrated the ability to carry it. Her final time of 1:35.22 was faster than Union Rags’s final time for the same distance winning the Champagne the same day.

Now, My Miss Aurelia will have to demonstrate the ability to go two turns. Five previous Frizette winners have won the Juvenile Fillies, the last being Indian Blessing in 2007.

“We’re judging them off what they’ve done at a time that they’re changing,” said Steve Asmussen, My Miss Aurelia’s trainer. “Some horses are going to be past their best, some of them are getting to their best. With her, we’re very fortunate that we have a very talented filly that’s got a competitive edge to her. That you like.”

My Miss Aurelia demonstrated that competitive edge winning the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga. After putting away a pace challenge from Bellacourt – a subsequent New York-bred stakes winner – My Miss Aurelia won a protracted stretch-duel over the stakes winner Millionreasonswhy.

Weemissfrankie, a New York-bred daughter of Sunriver, is the only 2-year-old filly to have won multiple Grade 1 races, taking the Del Mar Debutante going seven furlongs over Del Mar’s synthetic surface and the Oak Leaf going 1 1/16 miles over Santa Anita’s dirt surface. Her trainer, Peter Eurton, believes she won the Oak Leaf in spite of not enjoying getting dirt kicked her face.

“She’s such a trier,” Eurton said. “She fought through something that she really didn’t enjoy.”

Eurton believes his filly’s chances hinge on how well she handles Churchill’s main track.

“I think we fit most definitely,” he said. “I think it comes down to whether it’s her racetrack. I like the looks of the track. It looks like a nice, tight racetrack with a nice long stretch. There seems to be plenty of speed in there, but knowing Rafael [Bejarano], he’s not going to let her get too far out of it.”

After winning the Spinaway, Grace Hall had an easy prep taking the Blue Hen Stakes over modest competition at Delaware Park on Oct. 1. Her trainer, Tony Dutrow, believes Grace Hall has matured since the summer and he has loved the way she has trained the last month.

“I am feeling very good about her going to the Breeders’ Cup and her running well,” Dutrow said. “I can’t feel any other way.”

Northern Passion and Miss Netta are two horses who could sneak away at a big price. Northern Passion, trained by Mark Casse, has never raced on dirt, but she has trained well on it this week. Last year, the Casse-trained Delightful Mary finished third in the Juvenile Fillies at 11-1 in her dirt debut.

[Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies: Get graded entries, comments by Brad Free, and more]

Miss Netta is by Street Sense, who won the 2006 Juvenile and 2007 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Miss Netta, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, showed good speed winning her debut sprinting at Saratoga, but had gate difficulty when she ran third in the Frizette. McLaughlin has done extensive gate work with the filly in the interim.

“Don’t be surprised if we’re on the lead in the first turn, because she’s fast,” McLaughlin said. “She had a bad day on Frizette Day.”

Candrea, trained by Bob Baffert, also will likely show speed from post 2. She dueled for the lead in the Oak Leaf before grudgingly giving way. Say a Novena is coming off a 6 1/2-length victory in the Brandywine Stakes at Parx Racing on Oct. 1 and will likely have to go from post 13.

Europe will be represented by Questing, who is by Hard Spun and related to three dirt maiden winners. Homecoming Queen is a half-brother to Dylan Thomas, a multiple Group 1 winner on turf who was beaten 32 lengths in the 2006 Jockey Club Gold Cup on dirt.

Awesome Belle, from the same connections as last year’s Juvenile Fillies winner Awesome Feather, Frolic’s Revenge, and Self Preservation complete the field.

BREEDERS’ CUP FRIDAY: Streaming video and live chat on DRF.com

Grace Hall
A. Dutrow
R. Dominguez 78, 85, 72 Followed G1 sprint with two-turn crusher, good filly getting better 3-1
My Miss Aurelia
S. Asmussen
C. Nakatani 96, 91, 86 Unbeaten three fast races at one turn, can be gone if gets two turns 2-1
B. Baffert
M. Garcia 85, 85, 75 Ran super pushing quick pace, looms major threat on or near front 5-1
P. Eurton
R. Bejarano 86, 77, 77 Three-for-three in California, opinions vary regarding strength of wins 5-1
Miss Netta
K. McLaughlin
R. Maragh 79, 74, n/a Gate issues cost her G1 shot, sired by winner of BC Juvenile and Derby 10-1
Say a Novena
E. Plesa
E. Trujillo 76, 78, 72 Good sprinter maxing out her pedigree trying to get two turns 15-1
Rocket Twentyone
W. Howard
E. Razo Jr. 74, 46 Indian Charlie filly could be better than her numbers, bomber? 15-1
K. McPeek
A. Garcia 85, 67, 68 Can't deny upward form cycle, top Kentucky trainer due for BC win 15-1
J. Gosden
W. Buick n/a, n/a, n/a Good Euro shipper enters dirt race that so far has stymied Euros 20-1
Homecoming Queen
A. O'Brien
R. Moore n/a, n/a, n/a Made 10 starts in Ireland, won twice, taking a shot while razor sharp 30-1
Northern Passion
M. Casse
L. Contreras 86, 82, 81 WO shipper's form flattered when filly she beat won G1 Alcibiades 30-1
Self Preservation
B. Cecil
J. Rosario 86, 101, 78 Tough spot based on tiring finish G1 at SA, may prefer turf/synthetic 30-1
Awesome Belle
S. Gold
L. Jurado 84, 58, 54 Took advantage of paceless race and romped, unlikely scenario again 15-1
Frolic's Revenge
M. Wolfson
J. Velazquez 78, 79, 78 Progress stalled as season and distances have lengthened 30-1