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by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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Santa Anita:

The main Friday feature could well be the race of the weekend, even the race of the year, as top class fillies go head to head in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (G1).


Santa Anita 2 November 2012 - 9 furlongs dirt

Horses presented with best Globeform ratings
and GF ratings achieved last three starts (left to right).
Ratings expressed in pounds. 1 length = 2lbs

125p - AWESOME FEATHER / 121p – 123p - 125p
125 - ROYAL DELTA / 121 – 119 - 125
124 - QUESTING / 120p – 124p - 124
121p - MY MISS AURELIA / 121p in 2011 // ?p - 118p
120 - GRACE HALL / 117p – 0a – 120
116 - LOVE AND PRIDE / 95 – 111 – 116
116 - INCLUDE ME OUT / 115 – 117 - 110
114 - IN LINGERIE / 105 – 103 – 114p (F&M Turf alternative)


won the Ladies Classic last year and the Bill Mott trained daughter of Empire Maker will be back to defend her title. When she's at her peak, this filly is very good. Which is why Mott sent her to the Dubai World Cup (G1) and a run against the boys at Meydan in March. That plan did not work out but, given a rest following her trip to the Middle East, Royal Delta bounced right back to form on home soil in the Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs in June, a race show won in breathtaking style by eight lengths under top weight. Her next race was not such a stroll, but Royal Delta prevailed by a neck when giving 9lb to Tiz Miz Sue in the Delaware Handicap (G2) in July. The pair finished well clear and it was another solid performance. As was Royal Delta's following run, despite the fact that she suffered defeat when going for the prestigious Personal Ensign Handicap (G1) at Saratoga in August. Giving ten pounds to Todd Pletcher's filly Love and Pride (a Grade 1 winner also next time out) proved a bit too much, and Royal Delta went down by half a length. Fellow Grade 1 winner It's Tricky finished third and Tiz Miz Sue was back in fourth place. A month later, on September 29, Royal Delta took in her final prep for the Breeders' Cup, when meeting It's Tricky again in the Beldame Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park in New York. She had been well beaten in this race last year, and the punters made it close between Royal Delta and It's Tricky. When they passed the winning post it wasn't so close. Royal Delta humiliated here arch rival to the tune on 9 ½ lengths. It's Tricky did not produce her best on the day but still, one could only be both surprised and impressed by Royal Delta's show. She has never been better than this. Still, it seems reasonable to go against her this time, as the value bet in the race (and also top rated runner) is Chad Brown's Awesome Feather.

AWESOME FEATHER has a most impressive CV. A four-year-old daughter of Awesome Again, she has no idea what it's like to lose a horserace. Her record is a perfect ten-for-ten, and her comeback win at Belmont Park in September was something else. Okay, she was a heavy favourite, but the was Awesome Feather won the one-mile Nasty Storm Stakes had to be seen to be believed. Due to a problem with a tendon, which had limited her 2011 campaign to just two starts, Awesome Father had not raced since late January when she went to post for the Nasty Storm. She was sharp enough though, fitness was not a problem as she left her rivals for dead at the top of the stretch. Passing the post hard on the bridle, she won the race by 11 Ό lengths from All Due Respect, who was coming off a career best effort when third and has run well since, beaten just 2 lengths by the top sprinter Turbulent Descent, in the Ballerina Stakes (G1) four weeks earlier. How good this performance was is had to say, it is impossible to give it a certain rating, but jockey Jeffrey Sanchez gave us a clue after the race;

“She was better today than at the Sunshine Millions”, he said. Hard to believe but equally hard to argue with. Awesome Feather produced Globeform 123p when slamming five accomplished rivals in the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream Park back in January, a race she won easily by almost six lengths from Delightful Miss. Her Sunshine Millions win also came after a break, as Awesome Feather had not raced since winning the Gazelle Stakes (G1) at Aqueduct last December, when she also sailed home in splendid isolation and returned Globeform 121. That win came just over a year after Frank Stronach had paid $2,3 million for the filly at the Keeneland Sales. Stronach bought Awesome Feather on the back of her solid win in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), when she was trained by Stanley Hough. She joined Chad Brown, who has been given the luxury of applying plenty of patience when training this highly talented, but somewhat delicate, lady. Patience normally pays off in this game, and if Awesome Feather is at the top of her game on November 2, well, then even the likes of Royal Delta, Questing and My Miss Aurelia will know they've been in a race.

While Awesome Feather's pilot must have been tempted to wave to the crowd as she prepped for the Breeders' Cup, such ideas never entered the heads of Corey Nakatani and Irad Ortiz Jr, as they rode MY MISS AURELIA and QUESTING in the Cotillion Stakes (G1) at Parx Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park) two days after Awesome Feather's win in New York. Nakatani won on My My Miss Aurelia, in what was a tremendous battle to the line. Questing, a good size smaller than My Miss Aurelia, had outclassed her rivals in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, and she was burdened with seven pounds more than My Miss Aurelia at Parx. The wights certainly made all the difference that day, as My Miss Aurelia won by a head. Can she beat Questing also at level weights? Perhaps. The Cotillion was only the second start this year for My Miss Aurelia, and she is likely to improve again. She was champion juvenile filly last year, when she took the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) by 3 lengths. Like Awesome Feather, My Miss Aurelia will go into the Ladies Classic as an unbeaten runner. One of these perfect records will have to go on the day, perhaps both, after what should be some contest around the Santa Anita oval. We also need to add GRACE HALL's name to the mix, following a visually impressive return to form in the Indiana Oaks (G2) she must be respected. When on song this filly is not far behind the top four. She came back ill after running miles below form in the Alabama (G1) two starts back but looked as good as ever when cruising home by almost six lengths in the Indiana Oaks (G2) a month ago. It may have been a low-key prep but Grace Hall could not have been more impressive. Do not throw her out of your Trifecta plan.

Last update: 2012-10-29 09:13:31 (First published: 2012-10-23 10:56:47 )

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