10/20/2008 11:00PM

Folk Opera figures out front in F-M Turf


Folk Opera may not get away with an easy lead in Friday's $2 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.

She has already used those tactics to steal one Grade 1 race in North America this year - the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 4. Folk Opera's win justified Godolphin Racing's decision to supplement her to Friday's BC Filly and Mare Turf for $180,000.

Folk Opera, 4, won the E.P. Taylor by 1 3/4 lengths over Callwood Dancer. Sealy Hill, the 2007 Canadian Horse of the Year and an entrant in the BC Filly and Mare Turf, finished third despite a troubled trip in the stretch.

The Taylor erased the disappointment of Folk Opera's eighth-place finish behind the brilliant Zarkava in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille in Paris on Sept. 14. Preceding that loss, Folk Opera was first or second in three stakes in England and France.

In the Filly and Mare Turf, Folk Opera is part of a field of 10 and will break from post 9. Not many of her rivals are committed front-runners, though Dynaforce and Halfway to Heaven did lead throughout their last starts, both major stakes wins.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor wants Folk Opera near the front.

"I want her to be close," he said. "I know she has the class."

Suroor said that Folk Opera had her final workout over six furlongs in England last Saturday. He thinks that the firm turf course at Santa Anita "will suit" Folk Opera. She will need every edge possible in a race that has drawn seven Grade 1 or Group 1 winners this year.

Sealy Hill is the only filly or mare in the field not to win a stakes this year. Norman Casse, assistant trainer to his father, Mark, is banking on a quick pace to help Sealy Hill's late kick.

"We think she'll come with a big run or we wouldn't be out here," he said.