Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Loaded With Talent
By Casey Laughter
The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) has always been a major stepping-stone in the career of the winner. Last year, Songbird was the most recent example after she completed an undefeated juvenile season on racing’s signature day and has thus stayed that way going into this year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) as the likely favorite. This year, there are five “Win and You’re In” challenge winners, let’s look them over.
Daddys Lil Darling is a late running daughter of recently deceased standout sire Scat Dadd and after finishing fourth fin her debut returned a month later to break her maiden at Ellis Park for Kenny McPeek in a race originally scheduled for the turf. She then won the Pocahontas Stakes (GII) at Churchill Downs in the slop and was subsequently second in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (GI), a race that may have had her too far back early and with too much ground to make up in Keeneland’s stratch.
Daddys Lil Darling is bred to be successful on both dirt and turf. Her sire was successful on dirt but has sired many successful horses on the turf all over the world. Her dam, Miss Hot Salsa, was a handicap winner and graded stakes placed on the turf and has already produced a Breeders’ Cup winner in Mongolian Saturday (who will defend his title in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint [GI] next week), as well as a multiple stakes winner on both surfaces in Victoryasecret. Overall, Daddys Lil Darling looks like a filly who will cover middle distances effectively, but might struggle stretching out.
Dancing Rags defeated Daddys Lil Darling in the Darley Alcibiades last out at Keeneland and the filly is the second grade 1 winner for her first crop sire, Union Rags. She finished third in her debut but then won her maiden and successfully moved into Grade 1 company. She will go into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile fillies on a two-race win streak.
Home Court, the dam of Dancing Rags, has produced two graded stakes winners, including the Tapit stallion Coup de Grace. Coup de Grace was a dirt sprinter who won the Bay Shore Stakes (GIII) and the Amsterdam Stakes (GIII). Dancing Rags’ second dam is Jewel Princess, the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner and that year’s Eclipse Award winner as top older female. While her pedigree seems to incorporate both speed and stamina, it will be difficult to determine until she attempts to stretch out. However, she appeared in good sorts finishing up in the Alcibiades.
Noted and Quoted is the winner of the Chandelier Stakes (GI) by a nose over With Honors. Noted and Quoted is from the first crop of The Factor, a son of War Front. Noted and Quoted has won two of her four races though she did finish fourth in the Del Mar Debutante (GI) after not breaking too well. In the Chandelier, she sat up front in the early going with With Honors the entire trip and just nabbed her opponent at the wire.
The pedigree of Noted and Quoted, while attractive, is not stamina-oriented. The Factor is a very promising young stallion and the broodmare sire, City Zip, is a hot commodity on all surfaces. However, the small-ish Noted and Quoted physically looks like a filly who will struggle at distances any more than 8 1/2 furlongs. Her pedigree suggests sprinting on the turf would suit her much better, though Baffert isn’t one to start many on the turf.
Sweet Loretta is one of two fillies to have won the Spinaway Stakes (GI) at Saratoga, having dead-heated that day with Pretty City Dancer. Sweet Loretta, who is undefeated in three starts, has a big stride that covers a lot of ground and her preference seems to be that she likes to run later, so look for her to make a move coming into the stretch.
Pedigree on this filly is big. She is sired by champion stallion Tapit out of the Bluegrass Cat mare Ithinkisawapudycat, a half-sister to 2012 Canadian 2-year-old juvenile filly hampion Spring in the Air. The second dam, Unbridled Run, is a half-sister to Tejano Run, who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) in 1994 and then second in the 1995 Kentucky Derby (GI). Sweet Loretta is bred to be competitive up to nine furlongs, the distance of the Kentucky Oaks (GI). She is inbred to Unbridled and A.P. Indy, putting stamina into Sweet Loretta’s pedigree. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies should be a top spot to showcase her talent.
The final Breeders’ Cup Challenge winner is Yellow Agate, a filly from the first crop of Gemologist. Yellow Agate is a half-sister to a 3-year-old filly named Lemon Squeeze (by Gio Ponti.) The dam, Lemon Sorbet, produced her first graded stakes winner in Yellow Agate, who will enter the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies off two straight wins, including the Frizette Stakes (GI) at Belmont Park. She closed from off the pace in that race to defeat Libby’s Tail by a head.
Yellow Agate is a $210,000 yearling who was purchased by the China Horse Club at the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. It is difficult to say just how far Gemologist offspring will want to go since he hasn’t had a ton of runners, but based on his race record where he was effective up to nine furlongs, his offspring may need more stamina from the dam. Yellow Agate is by Lemon Drop Kid, a top router on the dirt and sire of multiple long-winded turf horses.
Thirteen nearly full field of fillies is expected to head to the gate in the $2 million, 1 1/16-mile test, which is sponsored by 14 Hands Winery.