06/23/2011 12:08PM

Snow Fairy makes 2011 debut in Pretty Polly at the Curragh

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In 2010, Snow Fairy won four Group 1 races in four countries on two continents. How much she can accomplish this year will be better known on Saturday when Snow Fairy makes her 4-year-old debut in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes for fillies and mares at the Curragh in Ireland.

Run over 1 1/4 miles, the Pretty Polly Stakes is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge program, offering an automatic berth for the winner to the BC Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs in November.

Snow Fairy has yet to compete in the United States, and her performance on Saturday and over the next few months will determine whether a race such as the Breeders’ Cup is a long-term possibility. The Pretty Polly Stakes, which has a purse of approximately $280,000, will be difficult enough to win, trainer Ed Dunlop said in a phone interview on Thursday.

“We haven’t had a run this year, and any race she would have run in her comeback would have been tough,” Dunlop said. “This is a tough race, but it’s against her own sex, which is why we’ve gone there.”

Midday, second by a length to St Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Cup against males at Epsom Downs on June 3, will be a heavy favorite. Trained by Henry Cecil, Midday won the 2009 BC Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita and was second in the same race last year at Churchill Downs.

Another contender is Misty for Me, trained by Aidan O’Brien. She won the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas on May 22, and was fifth in the English Oaks at Epsom on June 3. The Pretty Polly Stakes will be her first start against older fillies and mares.

Dunlop said that Snow Fairy has had a “trouble-free run” in recent training. “She looks stronger this year,” he said. “Whether she can be better this year remains to be seen.”

Last year, Snow Fairy was remarkable, winning the English Oaks and Irish Oaks in June and July, and two major races in the Far East – the $2 million Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup by four lengths against fillies and mares in Japan and the $2.5 million Hong Kong Vase against males in Hong Kong in December.

A start on the Dubai World Cup program in March was cancelled because of a leg injury, resulting in a delay in Snow Fairy’s 2011 debut.

“The Japanese performance was breathtaking and she beat the colts in Hong Kong,” Dunlop said. “We hope she’ll continue. Time will tell.”