Updated on 09/17/2011 6:38PM

Toner taking it one race at a time with Wonder Again


The prospective starting lineup for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf should come into sharper focus by the end of the weekend, with major prep races scheduled Saturday on both coasts and two more the following afternoon at Longchamp in France.

Saturday's Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park and Yellow Ribbon Handicap at Santa Anita, both Grade 1 races, should single out most of the major U.S. contenders for the 1 3/8-mile Filly and Mare Turf. Europe's best will get a chance to earn their way to the Breeders' Cup in either the Prix de l'Opera or Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Wonder Again tops the list of prospective starters for the Flower Bowl, which also includes Aubonne, Commercante, Film Maker, Moscow Burning, and Riskaverse.

Both Crimson Palace and defending champion Dimitrova will be notable by their absence from the Flower Bowl lineup. Crimson Palace missed some time following her victory in the Beverly D. and will now be trained up to the Filly and Mare Turf. Trainer Neil Drysdale had originally targeted the Flower Bowl for Dimitrova's next start but has decided to pass the race in favor of Keeneland's WinStar Galaxy the following weekend.

Wonder Again enters the Flower Bowl off impressive victories in the Grade 2 New York Handicap and Grade 1 Diana Handicap, but her trainer, Jim Toner, does not even want to think about the Breeders' Cup until after Saturday.

"Last year we got in trouble because we started looking too far ahead with her and never made it to the Breeders' Cup," said Toner. "Right now my only focus is on the Flower Bowl."

Wonder Again bypassed the 2003 Flower Bowl and had her 4-year-old campaign come to an abrupt halt the following weekend after a subpar performance in the WinStar Galaxy Stakes.

"Things just didn't go right for her last year," Toner said. "We got off track for the Flower Bowl when she ran poorly in the Ballston Spa, but then I thought we might still make the Breeders' Cup after she won the Noble Damsel. But Keeneland has never been a good place for her, so after she ran poorly in the Galaxy it made no sense to go on after that."

Toner mapped out a less-exacting campaign for Wonder Again this year. The Flower Bowl will be only her fourth start of 2004.

"She's in the best form of her career, but my main concern regarding the Breeders' Cup is the traveling," said Toner. "She's not the greatest shipper in the world."

The prospective starting lineup for the Yellow Ribbon includes likely favorite Light Jig, Amorama, Cozie Advantage, Good Student, Katdogawn, Noches de Rosa, Notting Hill, and Tangle.

There were three filly and mare turf races of note last weekend. Ocean Drive captured Belmont's one-mile Grade 3 Noble Damsel Handicap, Sand Springs won the 1 1/2-mile Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf, and My Pal Lana upset the Flaming Page Stakes at Woodbine, also at 1 1/2 miles.

Filly & Mare Turf Contenders
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
Gets back to work in Saturday's Yellow Ribbon, and should run well
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 has been considered for dirt
10Sweet StreamJ. Hammond15-1
Would have to prove her recent Gr. 1 upset in France was no fluke

- The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.