Updated on 09/17/2011 6:35PM

A longer race with a pronounced European flavor


Any preliminary discussion about the Filly and Mare Turf must begin with the distance of the race, which can vary from year to year due to the configuration of the grass course at the host site.

This year, the Filly and Mare Turf will be decided around three turns at 1 3/8 miles over the seven-furlong Lone Star Park turf course. It will mark the first time the race has been run at that distance since Perfect Sting won at Churchill Downs in 2000. The last three runnings were all contested at 1 1/4 miles.

Europeans dominated last year's race, with Islington, L'Ancresse, and Yesterday finishing one-two-three despite the torrid heat at Santa Anita. This year's potential European contenders also appear formidable, although it will not become completely clear who will run until after the Prix de l'Opera and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Oct. 3.

The strongest of the Europeans appears to be Ouija Board, a 3-year-old English-bred filly trained by Edward Dunlop. Ouija Board won the prestigious English Oaks and Irish Oaks earlier this season despite dwelling at the start of both races.

Dunlop's next objective for Ouija Board, who would have to be supplemented into the Breeders' Cup at a cost of $90,000, is the Arc. According to Adrian Beaumont of the International Racing Bureau in Newmarket, however, Dunlop could have a change of heart if he thinks the ground might come up soft at Longchamp. In that case, he would put Ouija Board on a flight to New York and run her in Belmont's Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational that same weekend.

Yesterday could be back after finishing a fast-closing third a year ago. Trained by Aiden O'Brien, Yesterday has started just once since that outing, finishing a well-beaten fifth against males in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Sept. 11.

Crimson Palace, a South African-bred mare owned by Godolphin Racing, has already won races on three continents in 2004, including the Grade 1 Beverly D. in her U.S. debut. The 5-year-old Crimson Palace is currently in New York preparing for the Flower Bowl. She would have to be supplemented at a cost of $200,000.

Wonder Again, easy winner of the New York and Diana handicaps in her last two starts, is also being pointed for the Flower Bowl, although her status for the Breeders' Cup remains uncertain. Riskaverse, beaten a half-length in the Beverly D., will also run in the Flower Bowl.

Musical Chimes finished 11th in the race last year. Musical Chimes, who was beaten less than a length in the Beverly D., was scheduled to run last Sunday on dirt in Belmont's Go for Wand, but trainer Neil Drysdale canceled those plans due to the threat of wet weather in New York.

Drysdale has not targeted any specific race for Musical Chimes's final Breeders' Cup prep, although the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita is a logical option. Musical Chimes finished second behind Tates Creek in the 2003 Yellow Ribbon.

Filly & Mare TurfContenders
3-year-olds & up, Fillies & Mares, 1 3/8 miles (turf). Purse: $1 million.

1Ouija BoardE. Dunlop5-1
English and Irish Oaks winner would be formidable if she comes
2Vallee EnchanteeE. Lellouche8-1
Has been fairly competitive with some of Europe's best males
3Crimson PalaceS. bin Suroor6-1
Capitalized on perfect trip in Beverely D.; is a 20% supplement
4Wonder AgainJ. Toner6-1
She's in top form and will love the distance, but doesn't ship well
5Favourable TermsSir M. Stoute10-1
Another European question mark; merits monitoring off her Gr. 1 win
6MegahertzR. Frankel12-1
It's going to be touch and go if she can be ready after her time off
7Light JigR. Frankel12-1
Also got a summer vacation, but she's much farther along in training
8Nebraska TornadoA. Fabre8-1
She is pointing to this, but her form this year has been spotty at best
9Musical ChimesN. Drysdale10-1
Distance is a question; that's why she was being considered for dirt
10Sweet StreamJ. Hammond15-1
Would have to prove her recent Gr. 1 upset in France was no fluke

- Odds and commentary by Mike Watchmaker.