Using History to Handicap the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf

Queen’s Trust (outside) defeated Lady Eli in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and both are pre-entered for this year’s running on Nov. 4. (Eclipse Sportswire)

When it comes to handicapping major stakes races, history can often provide guidelines for identifying the most likely winners, and the Breeders’ Cup races are no exceptions. Although the $2 million Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf on Nov. 4 at Del Mar doesn’t have as long a history as some of the other Breeders’ Cup races (it was first run in 1999), looking at the results through the years reveals a number of trends that can be useful for handicapping the race.

Let’s take a look at some of the key points to consider....

Any Running Style Can Win

When it comes to favoring a particular running style, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf can be considered one of the fairer races in the country. Over the last ten years, we’ve seen a gate-to-wire winner (Dayatthespa, 2014), several pace-tracking winners (Dank, 2013, and Shared Account, 2010), plus a bunch of winners that rallied from mid-pack and even a few deep closers like Stephanie’s Kitten (2015) and Queen’s Trust (2016).



Position after first 1/2-mile

½-mile & ¾-mile times


Queen’s Trust

11th by 10.25 lengths (13 starters)

46.16, 1:10.11 (firm)


Stephanie’s Kitten

10th by 5.75 length (10 starters)

49.26, 1:13.94 (good)



1st by 0.5 lengths (11 starters)

48.37, 1:13.12 (good)



2nd by 2.5 length (10 starters)

47.50, 1:11.52 (firm)



4th by 2.5 lengths (11 starters)

48.72, 1:13.00 (firm)


Perfect Shirl

8th by 4 lengths (11 starters)

51.07, 1:16.90 (good)


Shared Account

3rd by 2 lengths (11 starters)

50.32, 1:15.94 (firm)



5th by 3 lengths (8 starters)

48.83, 1:12.95 (firm)


Forever Together

7th by 4 lengths (10 starters)

50.02, 1:14.78 (firm)



7th by 3.5 lengths (11 starters)

52.06, 1:18.95 (soft)

Bet Chad Brown and Sir Michael Stoute

The Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf has been run 18 times so far, and six of the winners (33%) hailed from the barns of Chad Brown and Sir Michael Stoute, two of the most successful and accomplished trainers of turf horses in the world. Brown and Stoute have each won the race three times, and have actually accounted for every winner since 2012, with Brown sending out Zagora (2012), Dayatthespa (2014), and Stephanie’s Kitten (2015) and Stoute winning the race with Dank (2013) and Queen’s Trust (2016), as well as Islington in 2003.

The field for the Filly and Mare Turf has not yet been finalized, but Stoute is expected to send Queen’s Trust to defend her title, while Brown is expected to send out a trio of runners: Dacita, Lady Eli, and Grand Jete.

Somewhat surprisingly, the highly successful Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien (who has already won a record-equaling 25 Grade 1 races this year) has yet to win the Filly and Mare Turf despite enjoying strong success overall at the Breeders’ Cup.

Avoid California-Based Contenders

Even though the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf has been held in California seven times, no horse that prepped for the race on the West Coast has ever won. The closest were the Bobby Frankel-trained pair of Starine (2002) and Intercontinental (2005), who ran in California several times during their Breeders’ Cup-winning seasons, but completed their preparations at Belmont Park and Keeneland, respectively.

By far the key prep for the Filly and Mare Turf has been the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Stakes at Belmont Park, which has produced six of the 18 Filly and Mare Turf winners, as well as four of the last 10.

Favor Foreign-Bred and Foreign-Based Contenders

Since all of the best racing in Europe takes place on turf, it only makes sense that horses bred and/or raced in Europe would enjoy strong success in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and that has indeed been the case. In fact, 11 of the 18 Filly and Mare Turf winners (61%) were bred in Great Britain (8), France (2), or Ireland (1), and seven of the 18 (39%) were based overseas at the time of their Breeders’ Cup wins.

Don’t Be Afraid to Play Longshots

While favorites have gone 5-for-18 (28%) overall in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, recent editions of the race have been significantly less predictable. Just one favorite in the last ten years has prevailed, that being Dank at 3-2 in 2013, and during that same timeframe we’ve seen some impressive upsets from Shared Account (46-1 in 2010) and Perfect Shirl (27.80-1 in 2011).


Sir Michael Stoute and Chad Brown ran 1-2 in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf with Queen’s Trust and Lady Eli, and those two horses figure to be tough in 2017 as well. But don’t overlook the chances of foreign-bred horses shipping in from Europe – even if their form isn’t flashy at first glance, there’s a chance that they’ll relish the firm turf and tight turns at Del Mar, which could potentially lead to a longshot winner.

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