Saturday’s featured race at the track in Lexington, Kentucky, which I try not to name if I don’t have to, that I am only looking at because I am in the Saturday and Sunday tournaments and I essentially have no choice but to look at the PPs, is the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at 1 1/8 mile for 3yo fillies on the grass (how’s that for a run-on sentence?). Our expected favorite (I say “expected” because it’s Wednesday night as I type this and the morning line isn’t posted yet) is Rushing Fall, last year’s BC Juvy Fillies Turf winner. But there is another filly in here that I believe is the most-likely winner of the race and therefore should be favored.
Keep in mind that this race is restricted to 3yo fillies. Of the eight 3yo fillies in this race, only three have ever faced foes older than age three. One of those, Princess Warrior, faced older in an N2L at Ellis Park. Another, Mission Impassible, has one run against older in a Group 1 in Europe. She finished 5th of 11. But look at the PPs above for 1-Nyaleti. Not only has she faced and beaten older girls, she ran very well against older boys in a Group 2 at Goodwood in her last start, where she was barely beaten by Stormy Antarctic. He was just beaten less than two lengths by Oscar Performance in the Woodbine Mile, his subsequent start. Anyway, while I don’t believe in the “A barely beat B and B almost beat C” style of handicapping, I think you have to gauge class somehow and this way is one that has been known to work from time to time. So on paper, you can easily argue that Nyaleti is the classiest filly in this field.
Here’s another angle. I am firmly in the camp that believes horses at the Group 2 and Group 3 level on the grass in Europe are every bit as good and quite often better than American Grade 1 horses on the grass. I think you can make this case for boys, girls, milers, and marathoners. How many times have we seen horses that can’t win a Group race in Europe come to America and win our most prestigious turf races? Several. And with Nyaleti, we have not only a Group 2 winner, but look at what she did in the Grade 1 Beverly D in her lone start in America. She put up a 98 Beyer Speed Figure and if you watch the replay below, you’ll see she ran very, very well against America’s best older turf filly, Sistercharlie. Watch the replay below if you don’t believe me. She was caught behind horses at the wrong time, and when she got clear she continued on nicely and easily could have been much closer at the end.
By the way, that 98 BSF Nyaleti got in the Beverly D. is the fastest any filly in this field has ever earned….if Beyers are your thing.
Let’s see what the tote board reads on Saturday. As I said, I think Nyaleti should be favored. But I feel that role will go to Rushing Fall. And if I’m right, we might get a really nice value opportunity on Nyaleti.