Updated on 09/16/2011 9:26AM

East vs. West in Queen Elizabeth II

Wonder Again won her fourth consecutive start in the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup last month (above). She will have her hands full on Saturday in the Queen Elizabeth II.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Calling them the royalty of their class does them little good, but there are far more tangible rewards at stake for the nine fillies set to clash Saturday in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

First off, there is the $500,000 purse. And then there's the Grade 1 ranking. And then there's the nearly industry-wide consensus that the winner of the 1 1/8-mile QE II should be instantly recognized as a leader within the 3-year-old filly turf division.

The fillies that many horseplayers will back as most likely to gain those accolades are horses who form a classic East-vs.-West matchup: Wonder Again and Megahertz. Wonder Again notched her fourth straight victory in the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup last month at Belmont Park, while Megahertz is a Bobby Frankel-trained filly who, with Dublino, has emerged as a leader of the division in Southern California.

Wonder Again is owned by Joan and John Phillips, whose family has a remarkable record in the 18-year history of the QE II. Either listed separately, in partnership, or in the name of the Darby Dan Farm that their family owns, the Phillipses have won the QE II on five occasions, most recently in 1996 with Memories of Silver.

Wonder Again "obviously is a high-quality filly, and we have a lot of history with this race, so it's like our Breeders' Cup," trainer Jim Toner said Thursday from New York. "We'll come down there and hope we can do some good again."

Wonder Again, a homebred Silver Hawk filly, will be ridden by Edgar Prado, who returns to Keeneland after several days of riding in New York. Prado won four of the six graded races run here last weekend.

Megahertz, an English-bred owned by Michael Bello, came to the forefront of the division by winning four consecutive races after being imported from France. Her fifth race in the U.S., the July 8 American Oaks, resulted in a victory by disqualification after she was impeded by Dublino. In her lone subsequent start, Megahertz was beaten a nose by Dublino in a frantic finish in the Aug. 24 Del Mar Oaks.

"It's Megahertz, and it's Frankel, and you know they always come with their best," said Toner. "It should be a great race."

A victory by Megahertz would give Frankel his second in a row in a Keeneland stakes after the Hall of Fame trainer started the fall meet last weekend with four straight stakes losers. Frankel won the Raven Run here Wednesday with the highly impressive Sightseek.

Other contenders in the QE II include Alozaina, an Irish-bred filly who worked sharply over the turf course here Sunday for trainer Ron McAnally and jockey Pat Day; Zenda, who makes her U.S. debut for trainer John Gosden; and Little Treasure, who is unbeaten in two U.S. starts, both graded stakes, since Laura de Seroux assumed her training.

The rest of the field is Riskaverse, Showlady, Distant Valley, and Lush Soldier. All starters carry 121 pounds under scale weight conditions.

The question of pace in the QE II is an interesting one, since most of the field appears to prefer stalking the pace from several lengths behind. Little Treasure, Distant Valley, and Showlady might have the most early speed and thus would seem the top candidates to show the way until the more serious running begins.

The QE II, which was inaugurated in 1984 when the queen herself was on hand, will be televised live on ESPN on a one-hour show that begins at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. A replay of the Sept. 28 QE II Stakes from Ascot also will be included in the broadcast.

An ontrack crowd of more than 20,000 is likely, considering that kickoff for the University of Kentucky's football game against South Carolina at nearby Commonwealth Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m. Many local fans often make an entire sports day of what is known as a "Bluegrass doubleheader."

Although a steady rain pounded this area Thursday, the forecast for Saturday calls for partly cloudy skies and a high of about 77.



Purse: $500,000; 1 1/8 miles turf, Grade 1

1RiskaverseM. Guidry12110-1
2Little TreasureK. Desormeaux1214-1
3ShowladyR. Migliore12110-1
4Wonder AgainE. Prado1217-2
5Distant ValleyC. Perret12115-1
6ZendaR. Hughes1215-1
7AlozainaP. Day1218-1
8Lush SoldierR. Albarado12115-1
9MegahertzA. Solis1213-1

Odds by Kristin Sadler

Television: 3:30 p.m. Eastern, ESPN

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