Updated on 09/16/2011 9:23AM

Coast-to-coast Cup!

Banks Hill, top European filly and defending champ in the B.C. Filly and Mare Turf, takes on America's best: Golden Apples and Voodoo Dancer.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The search for a firm turf course has brought the European star Banks Hill to California for Saturday's $500,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes and an eagerly awaited confrontation with Golden Apples, the top female on turf in the United States.

Normally, racing fans would be denied such a matchup until the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Arlington Park on Oct. 26. Now, the Yellow Ribbon winner could inherit the role of favorite for the Filly and Mare Turf, which Banks Hill won convincingly at Belmont Park in 2001.

With the World Throroughbred Championships just three weeks away, there are similar, compelling storylines across the country. At Belmont Park in New York, Keeneland in Kentucky, and Oak Tree at Santa Anita, important prep races will be run in six Breeders' Cup divisions.

All three tracks have preps for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. At Belmont Park, Icecoldbeeratreds and Pretty Wild lead the field in the Champagne Stakes. Sky Mesa heads the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland while Kafwain will attempt to enhance his reputation in the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita.

In a preview of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Xtra Heat starts against males in the Phoenix Breeders' Cup Stakes at Keeneland. At Santa Anita, Swept Overboard, the winner of the Metropolitan Mile Handicap in New York in May, returns from injury in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Also at Santa Anita, Congaree will attempt to win his turf debut in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile.

There are two other major stakes in New York. Summer Colony heads the Grade 1 Beldame Stakes, trying to match the victory of her Western rival Azeri in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita on Wednesday. They are both on course for the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Storm Flag Flying, considered a standout among the nation's top 2-year-old fillies, starts in the Frizette Stakes against California invader Santa Catarina.

Banks Hill has been the top-seeded horse for the Filly and Mare Turf throughout the year. Owned by Juddmonte Farms, she was supplemented to the Yellow Ribbon for $10,000 on Thursday. The race has drawn six horses, all stakes winners, including Voodoo Dancer, a New York shipper who won the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 8.

Since winning the Filly and Mare Turf, the 4-year-old Banks Hill has one win in four Group 1 races against males and has not been worse than third. She won the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, France, in August in her third start of the year, but was second to Rock of Gibraltar in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp on Sept. 8.

Trained by Andre Fabre, Banks Hill was scheduled to start in the Flower Bowl Handicap at Belmont Park last weekend, but was rerouted to the Yellow Ribbon after the turf came up soft at Belmont Park.

Her extensive travels have left Ben Cecil, the trainer of Golden Apples, optimistic that he is meeting Banks Hill at the right time.

"From my point of view, if there is a time to run against her, this is the time," Cecil said. "She's been doing an awful lot of traveling. I know my filly likes this course. Her last work was very good."

Golden Apples has won 2 of 4 starts this year, including the richest race of her career in the $700,000 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 17. She has won 2 of 3 starts over the Santa Anita turf course, with her only loss a second in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap last April. The Yellow Ribbon is run over 1 1/4 miles, the same distance as the Santa Barbara.

Both Banks Hill and Golden Apples are stalkers who figure to track the pace of Nepthene, a longshot trained by Ron McAnally.

Like Banks Hill, Voodoo Dancer has come to California in search of a firm turf course. Trainer Christophe Clement is worried that the distance may work against Voodoo Dancer, a 4-year-old who has never run beyond 1 1/8 miles.

"I think Santa Anita may help because California is so speed-favoring," Clement said. "She's probably better at a mile or a mile and an eighth."

Despite her credentials, Voodoo Dancer is unlikely to use the Yellow Ribbon as a prep for the Breeders' Cup. Clement is concerned that the ground at Arlington Park will not be firm later this month. "The idea is to put her away and bring her back next year," he said.

Banks Hill will go favored, but Golden Apples will be well supported. Cecil is hoping the home-court advantage will be the difference. If the Yellow Ribbon becomes a sprint over the final half-mile, he says his filly is ready.

"There is a concern about how much pace there will be in a small field," Cecil said. "I think she's got a hell of a turn of foot. She's very versatile."