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Stephanie's Kitten (inside) held off Somali Lemonade to win the Lake Placid Stakes (G2) in August at Saratoga Race Course. The two will meet again Saturday in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (G1). (Photo Courtesy of HorsePhotos.com)

By Ellis Starr – National Racing Analyst for Equibase 

The 29th running of the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (G1) drew eight fillies, with six of them having finished third or better in a stakes in their most recent race. Leading the group is Garden City Stakes (G1) winner Samitar, but also in the field is Garden City runner-up (by a head) Somali Lemonade and third-place finisher Tannery. Lake Placid Stakes (G2) winner Stephanie’s Kitten is back in the form that saw her win the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) and could be very tough, while Lake Placid runner-up (by a half-length) Centre Court, who won the Lake George Stakes (G2) prior to that, wouldn’t need much improvement to win the Queen Elizabeth II. Dayatthespa brings a four-race winning streak, dating to January, into the Queen Elizabeth II, including the Appalachian Stakes (G3) on the Keeneland turf in April. Therefore, Dayatthespa has local positive experience many of these contenders lack. Better Lucky missed to Centre Court in the Lake George before a poor effort in the Lake Placid. Last but certainly not least, Treasured Up may have been best in her most recent race when fourth in the Pucker Up Stakes (G3) as she rallied from 11th of 12 to miss by less than a length.

Treasured Up ran huge in her most recent race when fourth in the Pucker Up. She rallied from 11th of 12 in the early stages to get into position to win with a quarter-mile to go, but Treasured Up had to wait for room to run at that critical stage of the race. She eventually got clear and closed very fast to miss by three-quarters of a length after being about seven lengths behind the leader with an eighth of a mile to go. Earning a career-best 103 Equibase Speed Figure while getting the last one-eighth of a mile in a sizzling 11 seconds, Treasured Up showed enough that, if she has a trouble-free trip in this shorter field, she can post the upset to win this race.

Tannery made her U.S. debut and her first start after nearly two months off on Sept. 15 in the Garden City Stakes when rallying from last to get third at the end with a strong 111 figure. Having won the Kilboy Estate Stakes (Ire-G3) right before coming to the U.S. at the distance of the Queen Elizabeth II, Tannery has as much right to improve in her second U.S. start as Samitar did in her second U.S. start last month (when victorious in the Garden City Stakes) and so must be strongly respected as a contender to win the Queen Elizabeth II.

Stephanie’s Kitten won the Lake Placid Stakes in her most recent start despite suffering from some traffic trouble in the late stages, earning a 103 Equibase Speed Figure in the process. Two races before that, she finished well to win the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs. Stephanie’s Kitten has been freshened for nearly two months since the Lake Placid, and with John Velazquez aboard for her last four wins and in the saddle for the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, there’s every reason to believe Stephanie’s Kitten can get the job done once again. 

STEPHANIE'S KITTEN

Stephanie's Kitten Prev

The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures: Better Lucky (108), Centre Court (108), Dayatthespa (106), Samitar (113) and Somali Lemonade (113). Truthfully, none of these have big knocks and all have potential to win with their best efforts, which should make this an exceptionally good race to watch and wager on.

My Selections:

Treasured Up

Tannery

Stephanie’s Kitten

 

$400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (G1)

Saturday, October 13, Race 9, Keeneland Race Course, 5:21 p.m. EDT

1 1/8 miles, turf, 3-year-old fillies

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1

Better Lucky (KY)

S. Bridgmohan

T Albertrani

2

Tannery (IRE)

E. Trujillo

A E Goldberg

3

Treasured Up (KY)

B.J. Hernandez Jr.

A M Stall Jr.

4

Centre Court (KY)

J.R. Leparoux

G R Arnold II

5

Stephanie's Kitten (KY)

J.R. Velazquez

W M Catalano

6

Somali Lemonade (KY)

J. Rocco Jr.

M R Matz

7

Samitar (GB)

R.A. Dominguez

C C Brown

8

Dayatthespa (NY)

J. Castellano

C C Brown

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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