10/11/2017 6:26PM

Newmarket's Fillies Mile may offer Breeders' Cup clues


The Group 1 Fillies Mile on Friday at Newmarket could offer some clues for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf next month at Del Mar.

It also offers trainer Aidan O’Brien another chance to creep closer to Bobby Frankel’s record 25 Group or Grade 1 stakes victories in a calendar year. As of Wednesday, O’Brien had 23 such wins, and in the Fillies Mile, for 2-year-old fillies, he has the three top antepost betting choices in Happily, Magical, and September.

Happily and Magical both have been mentioned as potential runners in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, and Happily, along with yet another O’Brien-trained filly, Clemmie, is the 4-1 early favorite in overseas antepost betting markets.

Happily has been a busy, successful horse this fall, winning the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at Leopardstown on Sept. 10 – a race in which Magical was second – and beating males in the Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagardere on Oct. 1 at Chantilly. The turnaround to the Fillies Mile is rapid, but O’Brien’s 2-year-olds regularly thrive under racing schedules that would be unthinkable in North America.

Magical won the Group 2 Debutante Stakes on Aug. 20 at The Curragh at Happily's expense, but could only finish fourth Oct. 1 in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac for 2-year-old fillies at Chantilly.

The Newmarket course as of Wednesday was rated good, and both O’Brien fillies have made their last three starts over soft ground. September might be worth considering on good or good to firm going. She was no match for Magical over soft ground in the Moyglare Stud, but was a good winner of the listed Chesham Stakes over fast ground at Ascot in June, and is bred to handle the one-furlong stretch to a mile.

Limato is under 2-1 in antepost betting to win the Group 2 Challenge Stakes over seven furlongs in the race before the Fillies Mile, that despite the fact Limato is winless in five starts since last October 2016. In Limato’s defense, he had a tricky trip when a close fourth last out in the Lennox Stakes, and that race’s third-place finisher, Suedois, won the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile last weekend at Keeneland. Limato was undone by yielding ground starting his 2017 season in Dubai, and turned in strong second- and third-place finishes in a pair of Group 1 sprints this summer, the Diamond Jubilee and the July Cup.

The 3-year-old filly Dabyah, unseen since fourth in the Coronation Stakes in June behind Winter, gets as much as a nine-pound weight break and could be a live runner for trainer John Gosden. Massaat drops in class from Group 1 competition and cuts back from one mile to a more suitable seven furlongs.

Also on the card are the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes for 2-year-olds over five furlongs, and the Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes for 2-year-old fillies over seven furlongs.

First post for the Newmarket card is 8:50 a.m. Eastern with the Fillies Mile set for 10:35.