10/15/2008 11:00PM

Pure Clan to step up against tough elders


ARCADIA, Calif. - Faced with a decision on where to run Pure Clan this month, the partnership that owns the four-time stakes winner opted to gamble. They passed the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Keeneland last weekend in favor of the much tougher $2 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.

IEAH Stables, Lewis Lakin, and Pegasus Holdings Group own Pure Clan, who has won 6 of 10 starts and $1,052,416. She is one of 13 fillies and mares pre-entered in the BC Filly and Mare Turf, which has drawn an outstanding group of American-based fillies and mares and a strong team from Europe.

Lakin said he leaned toward the Keeneland race, but is going along with the Breeders' Cup plan.

"We talked to our partners, IEAH, and they thought our filly was doing well," Lakin said. "They wanted to have her appear [in the Breeders' Cup] and it's a race they felt we would be competitive in. There was a question in our mind whether we should be in the Queen Elizabeth. I probably would have gone in that direction."

Trained by Bob Holthus in Kentucky, Pure Clan won the Grade 1 American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Hollywood Park in July and was a troubled second in the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes over a yielding turf course at Belmont Park on Sept. 6. The BC Filly and Mare Turf will be run over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita. With no rain in the forecast, the course at Santa Anita should be firm.

"She likes the ground out there," Lakin said. "We're going to need a fast pace, and I think we should get it."

With a win, Pure Clan can become the third 3-year-old filly to win the Filly and Mare Turf, preceded by Banks Hill (2001) and Ouija Board (2004). To join that group, Pure Clan will need to run the race of her career.

The Filly and Mare Turf is likely to have 11 starters. The connections of Goldikova, the winner of two Group 1 stakes in Europe in late summer, and Precious Kitten, the winner of three Grade 1 races in the last 15 months, have made the Breeders' Cup Mile on Oct. 25 as a first preference for their mares.

The other pre-entries are Dynaforce, Mauralakana, and Communique, the first three finishers of the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park on Sept. 27; Folk Opera and Sealy Hill, the first- and third-place finishers of the E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 4; Forever Together, the winner of the First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 3; Halfway to Heaven and Visit, who were first and third in the Sun Chariot Stakes in England on Oct. 4; and Wait a While and Vacare, who were first and third in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes here on Sept. 27.

Mauralakana breezed three furlongs in 39 seconds at Belmont Park on Thursday.

"We never work her fast," trainer Christophe Clement said. "She's aggressive enough and we don't need to work her fast."

- additional reporting by David Grening