09/09/2013 12:21PM

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf: Granny Mc’s Kitten, Clenor early leaders

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Barbara D. Livingston
Granny Mc’s Kitten wins the P.G. Johnson Stakes to become a contender for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Finding contenders in early September for the one-mile Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita is both easy and hard. It’s easy if all you do is look at stakes on turf for 2-year-old fillies held so far this year, and hard because those races do not figure to yield many starters for an event that is still two months away.

There have been just two turf stakes in major racing centers for juvenile fillies on turf thus far, one at Del Mar and one at Saratoga, so the pool of candidates is still small.

The Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf, run on Sept. 2 at a mile on grass at Del Mar, was won by the Irish-bred filly Clenor, who was winning for the second consecutive time at Del Mar since being imported after losing all three of her starts in her native country. Trained by Doug O’ Neill, Clenor has been impressive and won the Oak Tree with something left. Since the Juvenile Fillies will be held at Santa Anita, it gives Clenor the home field advantage, so she is the putative leader of the division, however tenuous that may be.

The P.G. Johnson Stakes, at 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga on Aug. 28 was won by a maiden, Granny Mc’s Kitten, who was making her second start. From the powerful stable of Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Chad Brown, the daughter of Kitten’s Joy beat some fillies who look like they will be turf specialists at this point, so she is at the head of the East Coast class.

There are only a handful of turf races for juvenile fillies that feed into the Breeders’ Cup, at least in North America, so the best way to look for likely contenders is to focus on the races that fit the bill.

There are three Win and You’re In races for the Juvenile Fillies Turf:
* Grade 3 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine on Sept. 14 at one mile on turf.
* Grade 3 Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 6 at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
* Grade 3 Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 9 at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Other races for juveniles fillies on turf that are worth noting:
* Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 14 at seven furlongs on turf.
* Surfer Girl Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 6 at a mile on turf.

Fillies from Europe are sure to be entered in the Breeders’ Cup, but it is far too early to get a line on any of those candidates.