Updated on 09/15/2011 2:13PM

Every turf filly who's any filly in QEII

Benoit & Associates
Affluent, trained by Ron McAnally is one of the key contenders in the competitive QEII.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Two weeks before the World Thoroughbred Championships is not what most horsemen would call perfect timing for a prep race.

But then, Keeneland officials realize that the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup is not a perennial producer of contenders for the Breeders' Cup, even after the Filly and Mare Turf became part of the championships two years ago. After all, the QEII is restricted to 3-year-old fillies, some of whom are probably not quite ready to step up against their elders.

Still, the QEII is an outstanding event in its own right, and it would not be impossible for a horse to wheel back in the Oct. 27 Filly and Mare Turf.

In fact, when the Grade 1 QEII is run Saturday at Keeneland, one or more of the top finishers probably will deserve to be considered among the elite turf fillies in North America. And although the circumstances involved in running right back in the Breeders' Cup are not ideal, the horsemen who have converged on Keeneland for the QEII say a Cup berth cannot be automatically discounted.

"I guess if she ran an exceptional race, we'd at least have to think about it," said Ron McAnally, who trains Affluent, one of a handful of logical contenders in a highly competitive race.

Affluent most recently finished second in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks to Golden Apples, who also is in the field of 10 for the 1 1/8-mile race. Three others who finished behind Golden Apples - Reine de Romance (third), Voodoo Dancer (fourth), and Live Your Dreams (sixth) - also are back for another shot at her.

Golden Apples, an Irish-bred Pivotal filly trained by Ben Cecil, apparently has thrived since her Oaks upset Aug. 18, which came in her first U.S. start. "She's so laid back," said Cecil. "Nothing bothers her. I even have to gallop her in company because she's so relaxed."

Reine de Romance is trained by Cecil's wife, Jenine Sahadi - one of two familial connections in the QEII. Voodoo Dancer is trained by Christophe Clement, whose brother, Nicolas Clement, will saddle Ing Ing.

"The filly will stay with my brother after this race," said Nicolas Clement.

Christophe Clement, the New York-based trainer who is enjoying another sensational year with his grass-specializing stable, probably has the QEII favorite in Voodoo Dancer, despite her defeat as the 6-5 favorite in the Del Mar Oaks. Before and after, Voodoo Dancer emerged as the East's top 3-year-old turf filly with devastating triumphs in the Lake George Stakes and Garden City Handicap.

Snow Dance, who is undefeated in four starts since being moved to the turf by trainer John Ward, is yet another dangerous challenger. In her last two races she has won the Lake Placid at Saratoga and the Pucker Up at Arlington Park.

The rest of the field is Sweetest Thing, Light Dancer, and Casual Feat. All starters carry 121 pounds.

The QEII, which is the last Grade 1 of the year in Kentucky, will be the highlight of a one-hour broadcast on ESPN. The show starts at 4 p.m. Eastern and will include previews of various Breeders' Cup divisions. Post time for the QEII is 4:40.

The QEII dates to 1984, when the Queen actually was on hand for the race. The inaugural running was won by Sintra, owned by Seth Hancock's Cherry Valley Farm.

The 2000 winner was Collect the Cash, a 25-1 shot who was not a factor as a long price again in the Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs.

The QEII is the eighth of nine races Saturday, when a meet-high crowd of more than 20,000 is expected. Many patrons will head directly for nearby Commonwealth Stadium after the races to watch the Kentucky-LSU football game.

Undercard races include the $75,000 Franklin Stakes (race six), which is headed by Baptize and Act of Reform. Five allowance races also are carded.



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


1Sweetest ThingJ. McAleney10-1

2Light DancerL. Meche30-1

3Snow DanceC. Perret6-1

4Casual FeatL. Melancon15-1

5Golden ApplesG. Gomez5-1

6Voodoo DancerC. Nakatani3-1

7Ing IngR. Albarado12-1

8Reine de RomanceD. Flores6-1

9AffluentE. Delahoussaye4-1

10Live Your DreamsP. Day10-1

All starters carry 121 pounds

Odds by Mike Watchmaker

Television: Saturday, 4 p.m. (Eastern) on ESPN

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