10/14/2010 1:02PM

Motion looks forward to showdown of East vs. West fillies in QE II Cup

Barbara D. Livingston
Check the Label has won four straight graded stakes heading into Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Graham Motion is a racing fan besides being one of the most successful trainers in North America today, so he has a great appreciation of what could occur Saturday in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

“It’s a remarkable showdown of East versus West,” said Motion. “There are a few other serious fillies in there, but if it comes down to our filly and Evening Jewel, this race could be something special.”

Motion is based primarily at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, from where Check the Label has shipped to win four straight graded turf stakes. Check the Label is likely to be the second wagering choice in the $400,000 QE II to Evening Jewel, who has shipped in from Southern California with an equally brilliant record, having finished first or second in her seven 2010 starts, all graded stakes.

“Our filly is coming into this without a chink in her armor,” said Motion, who trains Check the Label for the Lael Stables of Roy and Gretchen Jackson of Barbaro fame. “We laid out a plan for her this year, and she’s hit every spot just right, which as everyone knows is very rare. We feel very fortunate.”

Check the Label “most likely” will be making her final start of the year, said Motion, who trained the filly for her breeder, former Kentucky Gov. Brereton C. Jones, before the Jacksons bought her privately this summer following the Virginia Oaks.

“She’s been going at it all year,” said Motion. “All indications are that she’ll run again next year, so we’ll have a fresh horse then.”

La Cloche tries to give Phillips family a sixth QE II win

No family has enjoyed more success in the QE II than the Phillips family, whose horses have won the race five times, either alone or in partnerships. They will go for a sixth win Saturday when longshot La Cloche carries their silks in the QE II.

La Cloche is still eligible for a second-level allowance condition but “has been improving, and we felt like she deserved a shot in this, especially considering what this race means to the family,” said trainer Jimmy Toner.

John Phillips, who has headed the family racing operations for 15 years, is the great nephew of the late John Galbreath, whose Darby Dan Farm won the Kentucky Derby in 1963 with Chateaugay and in 1967 with Proud Clarion.

The Phillips winners of the QE II were Graceful Darby (1987), Love You by Heart (1988), Plenty of Grace (1990), Tribulation (1993), and Memories of Silver (1996). Toner trained the last two.

Lentenor tries Polytrack in search of second victory

When talking about bloodlines, retired trainer Frank Brothers liked to say: “Mrs. Mays had nine boys, but only one Willie.” In actuality, Mrs. Mays had far fewer kids, but the point was well made: Just because you’re related to a great athlete doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be one, too.

The subject is relevant in the case of a first-level allowance on Polytrack (race 8) Saturday at Keeneland, where Lentenor will start from the far outside post. A 3-year-old colt by Dynaformer out of the mare La Ville Rouge, Lentenor is a full brother to the legendary Barbaro, who would have been 7 if he hadn’t died in January 2007 as a result of injuries suffered in the Preakness the previous year.

Unlike Barbaro, Lentenor has mostly struggled, winning just once in seven starts. He might not even be favored Saturday for the familiar owner-trainer team of Lael Stables and Michael Matz.

“His two races this summer at Delaware Park were sort of disappointing, and the course was kind of chewed up both times, but he did come out of the last one really good,” said Matz. “We’ve wanted to try him back on the dirt or Poly, and with Check the Label in the Queen Elizabeth, the owners have something more to watch Saturday. We’re hoping he runs good.”

Barbaro and Lentenor have another full brother, 4-year-old Nicanor, who has won 4 of 11 starts and nearly $128,000 for Matz and the Jacksons.

Leparoux off to strong start

Julien Leparoux rode two winners here Wednesday to maintain his early lead atop the jockey standings. Leparoux won the seventh race for trainer Jonathan Sheppard aboard Promisei’llbehome ($25.60) and the ninth with Broadway Bertie ($9.80) for trainer David Vance. After 4 of 17 days, Leparoux had ridden seven winners.

Leparoux, the 2009 Eclipse Award winner for top jockey, has won or shared a Keeneland meet title on four previous occasions.

◗ Nina Fever will attempt to become the first horse to win twice at the meet when she runs Saturday as a heavy favorite in the second race, a starter-allowance sprint. Nina Fever will be ridden again by Marcelino Pedroza, a 17-year-old apprentice who got his first career victory when the filly easily prevailed in a $30,000 claiming sprint on opening weekend.