QEII Challenge scouting report

Saturday, Oct. 17, Keeneland

The Low-Down: Week-long rains and cool temperatures will certainly play a factor in the turf course condition for this Grade 1 $500,000 event. The good news: Most every starter in the race has not only run on soft or yielding turf, but excelled over it as well. A field of seven top North American 3-year-old fillies have accepted the invitational for the QEII, creating a very balanced field.

Our Eyes: Keeneland's turf course has played to deep, deep closers early in the 2009 fall meeting, and even with a smallish field size of seven, I'd still look for the late-running fillies to seal the deal in the final furlong.

Gozzip Girl likely goes solidly favored off of her G1 American Oaks score at Hollywood Park and disastrous fourth at 2-5 odds in the G1 Garden City at Belmont. Bettors don't lose faith so fast, especially when there's an excuse. She won over yielding turf in the G2 Sands Point in May and should handle most any footing.

Miss World and Shared Account took advantage of Gozzip Girl's first-turn mishap in the G1 Garden City and did their past in running a strong 1-2. Shared Account inherited the lead in a slowly run race and really was not at her best given that set-up. But unless Robby Albarado used Blind Date from the outside, or Kent Desormeaux takes the approach they did on the engine in the Sands Point with Gozzip Girl, the QEII could be a paceless affair as well. Miss World finishes well and accelerates when needed, a key in a paceless race. I'd give her the edge back against Shared Account if things are as slow as I expect them to be. With a true pace, I'd like the talents of Shared Account, but I don't think we'll get that.

British-bred Hameildaeme invades via her Santa Anita base for trainer James Lloyd and gets a major rider upgrade today to Alex Solis. Those who followed Del Mar this summer know how well Solis has been riding grass stakes, and he's won the QEII before. Her European breeding and race experience will come in very important the softer the course might become. I like her chances to split the New York trio.

Lady Shakespeare has rattled off four straight wins on the Woodbine grass, but picks up 7 pounds off her last win and returns to a course she handled pretty well in the spring. She did run poorly on a soft turf course last year, and I'd have to think the course condition would most adversely affect her and Hot Cha Cha.

The Bottom Line: Gozzip Girl should be tough, and I love that Albertrani leaned on her for three works in a 6-day span recently. This is her big dance. I'll play Gozzip Girl and Hameildaeme in exactas, going much heavier with the favorite on top.

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