10/06/2012 1:36PM

Keeneland: Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup shaping up as deep race

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Lady of Shamrock (left) will ship from Southern California for next Saturday’s QEII Cup.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The connections of 10 3-year-old turf fillies have accepted invitations to participate next weekend in the sixth and final Grade 1 race of the Keeneland fall meet, the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Saturday, Oct. 13.

Division leaders Stephanie’s Kitten, Lady of Shamrock, and Samitar are among those expected to be entered in the 29th running of the QEII, a 1 1/8-mile turf fixture that invariably comes up an outstanding race.

Stephanie’s Kitten is very familiar to Kentucky racing fans, having won the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs last fall for owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Wayne Catalano. A daughter of Kitten’s Joy, she won the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga in her last start.

Lady of Shamrock will ship from Southern California for trainer John Sadler on a major roll, having won 4 of her last 5 starts, most recently taking the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park and the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks.

Samitar, based in New York with Chad Brown, comes off a narrow victory in the Grade 1 Garden City as an odds-on favorite.

Other invitees for the QEII are Better Lucky, Centre Court, Dayatthespa, Leading Astray, Open Water, Somali Lemonade, and Tannery.

Entries for the QEII will be taken and drawn Wednesday. Other stakes to be run the first five-day week of the meet are the $150,000 Jessamine Stakes for 2-year-old turf fillies on Thursday and the $100,000 Franklin County Stakes for filly and mare turf sprinters Friday.

◗ Keeneland is heavily marketing a between-races appearance here next Sunday, Oct. 14, by 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty. There’s a hook: Plum Pretty will be sold as one of the marquee hips among the nearly 4,000 cataloged for Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale (Nov. 6-16). Other notables in the sale include Gold Edge, the Arlington-Washington Lassie winner who incurred her first career loss when seventh in the Alcibiades. The 2-year-old filly is part of the dispersal of Dolph Morrison, the breeder and original owner of Rachel Alexandra.