Announce – The 4yo daughter of Selkirk will start in Friday’s Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, the same race in which her Juddmonte Farms’ stablemate Midday has been a major player the past two years (winning in 2009 and second last year).
Announce, who has won five of 10 career starts, is coming off a nose defeat in the Prix de’l Opera to Nahrain, who will also start in the Filly & Mare turf.
“She ran a super race,” Juddmonte racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said, “She just got done in by the photographer (photo finish). She’s come over in great form and she’s traveled really well.”
The Filly & Mare Turf is deep in talent, with contenders from North America and Europe.
“It’s a very high-class race,” Grimthorpe said, acknowledging the level of competition. “Unfortunately, you could make a case for far too many of them.”
Grimthorpe said the Filly & Mare Turf is a nice fit for Announce.
“It’s just about her correct distance,” he said. “She started off the year well. She was a little bit slow in the summer, but she’s come back well in the autumn. She’s been in good form and training straightforwardly. Hopefully, this is a good spot for her.”
Aruna/Shared Account – Trainer Graham Motion altered the plans for his two Filly & Mare Turf contenders Thursday when the Churchill Downs turf course was closed because of rain, opting to send them to the main track for 1 3/4m gallops.
Motion expects Aruna and defending champion Shared Account to be involved in the 1 3/8m turf race throughout.
“I don’t think either one of my fillies will be too far off the pace,” Motion said. “I would prefer that Shared Account (post 9) had drawn a little to the inside.
“Last year, I didn’t know I was going to win it, but I didn’t think she was going to be 40-1 off what she had accomplished,” Motion said. “Now this year it’s a different story. People are going to look at her (past performances) and be skeptical that she’s regained that form.”
“I think by the numbers, it shows she’s probably as good as she was last year. It’s just that she’s had a mixed-up campaign. I feel just as comfortable running her this year as I did last year.”
Cambina – Trainer Jeff Bonde, on the grounds for the first time Thursday after arriving from California, said that he’s hoping for no traffic problems in Friday’s Filly & Mare Turf.
“When she doesn’t have traffic trouble, she’s very hard to beat,” Bonde said. “Like most European runners (Cambina competed exclusively in Ireland in 2010), she likes to be covered up early. But then she’s ready to make one big run as they turn for home. She has shown a terrific turn of foot in her victories. That’s her strong point.”
The 3yo daughter of Hawk Wing has four wins in nine starts since being bought privately last fall in Ireland. She won two races there as a juvenile and was second in a listed race.
Dubawi Heights – Though appearing to have found her best form since coming to the United States last year, trainer Simon Callaghan said Thursday morning that he thought Dubawi Heights had reasonable form in England too, even though she was still a maiden when she came to him.
“Her form in England was pretty good, actually,” Callaghan said. “She finished second to Lillie Langtry, who went on to win a Group 1. Overall, she ran against top company there.”
After six starts in Great Britain, the filly broke her maiden at Hollywood Park in her third U.S. start. She followed that with four victories and a second in her next five starts.
“Her running style is suited to American racing,” Callaghan said. “She has a high cruising speed.”
Harmonious – The daughter of Dynaformer went to the Churchill Downs main track Thursday morning, finishing up her business just ahead of the day’s predicted rainfall.
Trainer John Shirreffs oversaw the activity and is feeling comfortable with his filly as she heads toward her date in Friday’s Filly & Mare Turf.
“We’re keeping her busy and she’s doing fine,” Shirreffs said.
Harmonious is owned and was bred by Martin and Pam Wygod of Rancho Santa Fe, California. The trainer was asked if he thought he’d have a chance to train her again next year, or if she’d join the Wygods’ band of Kentucky-based broodmares following the Breeders’ Cup.
“I’m hoping they don’t want to breed her next year,” he said. “She’s only a 4-year-old and I think she’s got some untapped potential yet. I’d sure like to see her run again.”
Misty For Me – The daughter of Galileo trotted one circuit of the main track Thursday morning before breaking into a steady canter ahead of her start in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Nahrain – The 3yo daughter of Selkirk had a steady canter on the dirt, which pleased Newmarket trainer Roger Varian.
“I am really happy with her and she seems to be very well,” Varian said. “She appears to be very settled in her new surroundings.”
Stacelita – Martin Schwartz’s 5yo mare went out for her daily 1 3/8m gallop Thursday, the morning before the final race of her career.
The Monsun filly trained by Chad Brown is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the field of 12 for the Filly & Mare Turf. Two other top turf females, Midday, the 2009 winner and 2010 runner-up, and three-time Group 1 winner Sarafina, are taking on males in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Saturday.
“I’m happy they are in the Turf,” Brown said. “I’d rather not have to run against them. But looking at the big picture, I think I have the best filly, certainly in the United States, and probably in this field. I’m just focused on what she is doing. I wouldn’t change places with anyone. If given the choice, you’d rather not have to run against those other two fillies.”
Brown, 32, is looking for his second Breeders’ Cup victory. He won with his first starter, Maram, in the Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2008. Maram’s win at Santa Anita was an important step forward for Brown, who was just completing his first year running his own public stable.
“It definitely gave us a huge boost because when you show up on the big days and you go ahead and get the ‘W,’ owners are a lot more trusting of you,” Brown said. “They trust you with well-intended horses and expensive horses. There are more opportunities when you prove you can do it. She wasn’t a horse that anyone really thought she was that caliber when she was young, but we kind of made something out of her and allowed her to get there. When you do that, it opens up a lot of doors.”