11/05/2009 12:00AM

Long campaign leads Lillie Langtry to BC

Barbara D. Livingston
The Irish import Lillie Langtry enjoys the Southern California sunshine on Wednesday. She gives trainer Aidan O'Brien a big shot in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Aidan O'Brien can go one better than he did last year in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. The O'Brien-trained Heart Shaped failed to run down Maram by the narrowest of margins in last year's first running of this one-mile race. This year, Lillie Langtry, an Irish Group 2 winner, follows in the footsteps of Heart Shaped for O'Brien.

"She's better than Heart Shaped," O'Brien said of Lillie Langtry, and there is no reason to doubt that assessment.

The winner of the seven-furlong, Group 2 Debutante Stakes at Leopardstown three back on Aug. 6, Lillie Langtry can be forgiven for her third-place finish in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes next time as that race was run in a quagmire. She is better judged on her most recent performance, a 2 1/4-length victory over 13 rivals in the $1.2 million Tattersalls Fillies 800, a seven-furlong Newmarket allowance restricted to fillies sold at Tattersalls 2008 Million Sale.

Lillie Langtry has been competing against better fillies than those of her American-trained rivals. Elusive Galaxy, who finished third to Lillie Langtry in the Debutante, will try her again here but is likely to find her too tough again.

By Danehill Dancer out of a mare by the stamina-influencing Darshaan, Lillie Langtry should have no trouble stretching out from seven furlongs to a mile.

Johnny Murtagh, who rode her in both of her recent victories as well as in the Group 3 Coolmore Stud Fillies Sprint Stakes, will be on board again. If there is a chink in Lillie Langtry's armor, it is that she has been in training since early spring. Skeptics may wish to pass on her as fresh horses are generally preferable on Breeders' Cup Day.

With the exception of the Ben Cecil-trained Elusive Galaxy, who failed as the even-money favorite when she was fourth in the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes in her North American debut, Lillie Langtry's American opposition doesn't seem quite up to the quality displayed by last year's winner, Maram. The first three finishers from Keeneland's ungraded off-the-turf Jessamine Stakes are all in the lineup. The winner that day, the Ken McPeek-trained House of Grace, will attempt to repeat her victory, which was had by a mere nose over Smart Seattle.

Smart Seattle, a Smart Strike filly trained by Graham Motion for George Strawbridge, can reverse that form. A return to turf should be to her advantage, but she may lack the class to cope with Lillie Langtry and may not be capable of improving as much as the race's wild-card entry, Junia Tepzia.

There is no more mysterious horse running in this year's Breeders' Cup than Junia Tepzia, Team Valor's latest off-the-cuff purchase. Bred in Ireland by Hascombe & Valiant Studs and trained in Germany by Peter Schiergen, Junia Tepzia had been sent to Italy for both of her races. Each of them resulted in a handy score for the Rock of Gibraltar filly, the most recent an overpowering 3 1/4-length win in the listed 7 1/2-furlong Premio Coolmore in Milan.

Team Valor, who recently landed the Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita with its British purchase Gitano Hernando, bought Junia Tepzia after her handy maiden score going a mile at Merano, a provincial Italian track just across the border from Austria. She could be any sort - the Juvenile Fillies Turf winner or an also-ran. Given Team Valor's track record with relatively obscure purchases, she is likely to be close to the front of the pack when it counts, especially with big-race specialist Kieren Fallon on board.

Of the others, Rose Catherine may have the best chance of an upset. The 8 3/4-length winner of a six-furlong Belmont maiden in her first try on turf, Rose Catherine has a license to improve again.