Literally half of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) field is composed of European shippers or recent imports. With Aidan O’Brien’s dynamic duo leading the way, the international fillies arguably have a stronger case than the less proven boys in the Juvenile Turf (G1).
Here are their mini-profiles, in order of preference:
I’ve been rapt by this daughter of Japanese legend Deep Impact and European co-champion Peeping Fawn since she spread-eagled the field in her Leopardstown unveiling. The O’Brien pupil was subsequently favored over the boys in the Chesham at Royal Ascot (click link for replay), where she was farther behind than expected due to a problematic start, but kicked into top gear late to win going away. The third-placer was Juvenile Turf contender Masar, who went on to win the Solario (G3). September left her fans deflated by her two ensuing starts at the Curragh, winding up fourth in the Debutante (G2) and third in the Moyglare (G1). Stablemates Happily (the Juvenile Fillies Turf favorite) and Magical beat her both times, but there were extenuating circumstances: September had a two-month break going into the soft-ground Debutante, and the ground was abysmal in the Moyglare. Back on a quick surface and fully cranked for the Fillies’ Mile (G1) at Newmarket, September took a gigantic step forward and ought to have won outright but for bad luck in running. Watch how she (dark Magnier silks) is strung up behind horses before breaking free, flying up the rising ground, and overtaking Laurens right after the wire. Aside from the visual impression, she totally reversed form with Magical (fourth):
Although she lacks size, September is the offspring of parents who excelled with maturity, and I’m hopeful that there’s much more to come from her.
As a full sister to dual classic-winning champion Gleneagles, this O’Brien trainee is entitled to thrive on firm turf, so it’s no surprise that her biggest margin of victory came in her one and only opportunity on a faster surface. She streaked five lengths clear in the Silver Flash (G3) at Leopardstown straight off her maiden score. But Happily is no less effective on rain-softened going, in that respect resembling another full sibling, Marvellous, who upset the 2014 Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) in those conditions. Their dam, 2007 Cherry Hinton (G2) winner You’resothrilling, was similarly ground-versatile, as was her famous full brother, “Iron Horse” Giant’s Causeway. Happily, although second to Magical in the Debutante, gained revenge in a Moyglare thriller on desperate going, then scored an historic victory over males (including aforementioned Masar) in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) on Arc Day. She became the first filly to win since 1986:
Not to dampen enthusiasm for her top effort, but it must be pointed out that the Lagardere time was a full second slower than the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) for two-year-old fillies one race earlier on Arc Day. Happily’s hopes to wheel back 12 days later for the Fillies’ Mile were dashed by her reportedly spiking a temperature. O’Brien told “At the Races” that she had a “slightly bad scope, but she didn’t miss any important work because of it and it shouldn’t have any bearing on her chance this week.” Ryan Moore accordingly sticks with her in preference to September.
By the Shamardal stallion Lope De Vega and out of a half-sister to 2009 Arlington Million (G1) third Stotsfold, Capla Temptress was expertly brought along by original trainer Marco Botti. She debuted as a 20-1 longshot in a low-key event on the Chelmsford Polytrack, didn’t appear in it until deep stretch, then erupted between foes to prevail on the line. Capla Temptress was favored next time out at Newmarket, her first turf try, and made it two in a row by traveling smartly and drawing off. Scooped up by Team Valor thereafter, she rose in class for the Sweet Solera (G3) over the same course and seven-furlong trip and chased the front runners Tajaanus and Juliet Capulet (see below) home in third. She initially tacked closer to Tajaanus on the stands’ side before edging toward the main group in the center, but the indecision probably didn’t cost her a better finish. Aside from the future success of Juvenile Fillies Turf rival Juliet Capulet, the Sweet Solera has some other useful bits of form, through also-rans Mamba Noire (third in both the Duchess of Cambridge [G2] and Lowther [G2]) and Dance Diva (previously winner of the Empress and second in the Princess Margaret [G3]). Capla Temptress was off to Woodbine for the “Win & You’re In” Natalma (G1), demonstrating a potent kick to nab Dixie Moon (who re-opposes Friday) and Wonder Gadot (who I like in the Juvenile Fillies [G1] on dirt). Both were next-out stakes winners, with Dixie Moon beating the boys in the Cup and Saucer and Wonder Gadot smashing them in the Mazarine (G3):
Transferred to Bill Mott to continue her career in North America, Capla Temptress doesn’t brandish the same degree of European form as a few others in here. But she’s maneuverable, with a great attitude, and likely to give a good account of herself.
It’s difficult to discount any contender dispatched from the John Gosden yard, especially one who beat Capla Temptress two back and now exits her biggest win. Yet Juliet Capulet’s drawn post 13, and her best results have come on good-to-soft: does that mean the daughter of Dark Angel has improved because she got her ground, or due to the benefits of maturing over the course of the season? After finally getting a win at Thirsk, in her fourth attempt, she improved again and nearly upset the Sweet Solera at 20-1. Juliet Capulet showed good speed to lead the center group, but the winning Tajaanus spearheaded the stands’ side and stayed on best by a length with Capla Temptress third. As that foe advertised the form in the Natalma, Juliet Capulet did so at home in the “Win & You’re In” Rockfel (G2) over Newmarket’s Rowley Mile.
By outdueling 2-1 favorite Nyaleti – the Princess Margaret romper who’s also placed to September, Clemmie, and eventual Fillies’ Mile winner Laurens – Juliet Capulet illustrated just how much she’s improved of late. The Rockfel’s troubled third, Gavota, went on to miss by a neck in the Oh So Sharp (G3), and fourth-placer Hikmaa just won the Radley. The Breeders’ Cup didn’t immediately appear on the cards for Juliet Capulet, so Gosden’s willingness to press on with the Cheveley Park runner could be significant. Juliet Capulet descends from the family of sprint highweights G Force and Lethal Force, as well as 2012 Juvenile Fillies Turf star Flotilla.
NOW YOU’RE TALKING
Although 0-for-5 going into the biggest test of her career, Now You’re Talking has a better shot of factoring than her record indicates. By successful young sire Zoffany (a top juvenile himself), Now You’re Talking is a half-sister to two stakes-performing juveniles, listed winner Aktoria and Group 3-placed Galaktea. Trainer Joseph O’Brien, Aidan’s son who outgrew his successful career as a jockey, hasn’t been afraid to pitch her into some tough spots, yet Now You’re Talking keeps running well in defeat. In her second try, she just missed (as the favorite) in the same maiden in which future star Clemmie was a hard-charging third. Now You’re Talking then outperformed her 66-1 odds at Royal Ascot, finishing fourth in the five-furlong Queen Mary (G2) to Heartache and Wesley Ward’s Happy Like a Fool. Watch her in the red silks toward the center as she stays on one-paced and drops third late.
Heartache has since upheld the form by placing in the Prix Morny (G1) and defeating the boys in the Flying Childers (G2). Now You’re Talking was arguably looking for longer than five furlongs, but she tried the minimum trip again in the Tipperary S., and went down fighting by all of a half-length in third. Odds-on runner-up Actress, who went on to beat the boys in the Anglesey (G3), was later third in the Phoenix (G1) to Sioux Nation and Juvenile Turf runner Beckford (edging Juvenile [G1] contender U S Navy Flag). Off for more than 2 1/2 months, Now You’re Talking stretched back out to six furlongs, but in a seemingly impossible spot in the Cheveley Park (G1). Still, the 50-1 shot rallied and nearly overtook Juvenile Fillies Turf rival Madeline (see below) for third, only to tire late and settle for fourth. If Joseph follows his father’s pattern, Now You’re Talking is eligible to move forward dramatically second off the layoff. Seen from afar on video, she appears a scopey type who’d like the mile around Del Mar. I wouldn’t be shocked if she’s in the superfecta, especially since she is making a habit of rounding out the top four at huge odds.
Fatale Bere is from the first crop of Pedro the Great, a son of Henrythenavigator who won the 2012 Phoenix (G1) for O’Brien in his only season to race. She began her career rather obscurely in the French provinces, but couldn’t escape notice after winning her first two starts. Finishing with a flourish in time at Sennones-Pouance on Bastille Day, Fatale Bere also did her best work late in a conditions race at Le Lion d’Angers. Next came a stakes attempt in the Criterium de l’Ouest at Craon, where she was no match for odds-on Mission Impassable and checked in third behind Altea. The top two would graduate to Group placings at major venues, Mission Impassable finishing third in the Marcel Boussac (edging O’Brien’s aforementioned Magical) on Arc Day, and Altea placing second in the October 18 Prix des Reservoirs (G3). By that time, Fatale Bere had already made a name for herself with new trainer Leonard Powell in Southern California. Making her U.S. debut in the Surfer Girl, she proved conclusively that her soft-ground form translated exceptionally to firm turf. Fatale Bere recovered from a slow start to nip Moon Dash on the head-bob:
Like Capla Temptress, Fatale Bere thus has proven herself in North American conditions. But the Surfer Girl field wasn’t as compelling as the Natalma. In the counterfactual department, what if Surfer Girl morning-line favorite Goodthingstaketime had been able to draw in from the also-eligible list? She was also trying to get into the BC. Less speculatively, Moon Dash’s wide trip meant that she covered much more ground than her razor-thin margin of defeat. Considering how much she was stepping up from a Delaware maiden, both she and Fatale Bere need to step up again versus this cast.
The Roger Varian filly has been thereabouts in a few marquee races in this division in Britain, making her a logical exotics play. The Kodiac filly is out of Swiss champion Madhulika (who did not win a black-type stakes) from the family of Thistle Bird and, at a further remove, Solow. After beating eventual Prestige (G3) winner Billesdon Brook in her first score at Goodwood, Madeline was a creditable fifth in Royal Ascot’s Albany (G3) while racing on the disadvantaged stands’ side (the top two were on the far side). A still-learning Clemmie was seventh, but has moved forward mightily since for O’Brien. Madeline earned her stakes breakthrough next time as the favorite in the Star at Newbury, outkicking Natural and leaving the boys further behind:
Back up to Group company for the Lowther (G2) at York, Madeline was runner-up to Mark Johnston’s smart prospect Threading. She turned the tables when Threading flopped in the Cheveley Park (G1), but didn’t pose a serious challenge when third to the victorious Clemmie and second Different League at Newmarket. While Madeline’s consistency is admirable, she doesn’t give the vibe of a horse who’s about to strike a new career high in her first try past six furlongs.
September photo by Jamie Newell/Horsephotos.com