Edited Keeneland Staff Release — Elusive Princess (FR) announced her arrival in North America with authority on Aug. 4 at Saratoga when she romped to a 3¼-length victory as the favorite in the Saratoga Oaks Invitational (G3) as the favorite going 1 3/16 miles.
On Saturday, she will try to make another authoritative statement when she goes to the gate in the 40th running of the $600,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana to be run at 1 1/8 miles over the Keeneland turf course.
“She got here last night and trained this morning,” trainer Arnaud Delacour said of the 3-year-old filly, who came into his barn following her victory at Saratoga. “We picked her up the day after she won at Saratoga and took her to Fair Hill (Training Center in Maryland) and that gave us two months to get ready for here.”
Delacour took over the training of the filly from Jean-Philippe Dubois, who also bred and owned Elusive Princess.
“The ownership (LNJ Foxwoods, NK Racing and Anthony Munafo) did not change and the trainer kept a share (as Ecurie Victoria Dreams),” Delacour said. “I am lucky to get the opportunity. She is an exciting prospect.”
Delacour likes what he has seen from the Martinborough (JPN) filly who is Group 1-placed this year in France.
“She was very impressive at Saratoga and she is very efficient,” Delacour said. “Her last race in Europe (the Group 1 Prix de Diane run at 1 5/16 miles) she showed a big turn of foot and made a big run to finish fifth from far back.”
Turf conditions for the Prix de Diane were labeled good to soft and Elusive Princess caught soft conditions at Saratoga.
“She likes a little bit of cut (softness) in the ground, and I’d like to get that again Saturday,” Delacour said.
Overnight showers Friday into Saturday morning are forecast.
In addition to Elusive Princess, the QE II attracted European invaders Mawj (IRE), Sounds of Heaven (GB) and Elounda Queen (IRE).
“This is not a typical end-of-the-year race in that a lot of horses are coming in fresh,” Delacour said. “Mawj has not run since May (in winning the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas), and Sounds of Heaven hasn’t run since the end of July (in the Group 1 Prix Rothschild). This is a tough race and a solid group.”
Flavien Prat, who has ridden the past two QE II winners in Shantisara (IRE) in 2021 and Gina Romantica last year, retains the mount on Elusive Princess on Saturday.
KEENELAND INTRODUCES NEW TYPE OF RACE
Keeneland introduced a new type of race on Oct. 11: a maiden auction race. Worth $70,000 for 2-year-olds, the event is for non-winners that sold or did not meet their reserve price for $50,000 or less in their most recent auction. Today’s Race 4 has the same condition for fillies.
Both races, run at 7 furlongs, attracted overflow fields.
“A maiden auction race is just a step below a maiden special weight,” Keeneland and Churchill Downs Racing Secretary Ben Huffman said. “People can buy a good prospect for that price at auction, but in a maiden special weight race they might have to face million-dollar purchases and the royally bred homebreds.
“Maiden special weight races in Kentucky are just so tough,” he added. “The maiden auction races give those horses some class relief with lesser competition, and owners do not have to risk having their horse claimed.”
Wednesday’s race with a field limit of 12 horses drew 19 entries. Four of those were placed on the “also eligible” list and three were excluded.
With no scratches, a dozen entrants were in the race with Calumet Farm’s Khanate cruising to a 10½-length victory for trainer Todd Pletcher. Bred in Kentucky by Mongolian Stable, Khanate sold to Calumet for $35,000 at Keeneland’s 2022 September Yearling Sale. He was consigned by Conley Bloodstock (Carolyn Conley), agent.
Runner-up Mr. Faversham was a $50,000 purchase at the same sale. Bradley Thoroughbreds, agent, bought him from consignor and breeder Machmer Hall. Cherie DeVaux trains Mr. Faversham for owners Belmar Racing and Breeding and David Ingordo.
“These races are very popular with the horseman,” Huffman said. “We are looking forward to offering more in the future.”
Trained John Ortiz said WSS Racing’s Brightwork will be headed to Santa Anita at the end of the month for the $2 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on Nov. 3.
Undefeated in her first four races, Brightwork finished fifth in the Darley Alcibiades (G1) here on Oct. 6. …
Jockey Tyler Heard posted his first Keeneland victory Wednesday afternoon when he guided Selima Holdings, Allen Greathouse and Mark Arnold’s Intermittent Fast to a 6½-length win in the fifth race as the favorite in a field of nine.
THURSDAY WORK TAB
Mellon Patch, Inc.’s Lady Radler, winner of the Dogwood (G3) at Churchill Downs in her most recent outing, worked a half-mile in :48.40 for trainer Michael Campbell for an expected start in the $350,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2) to be run Oct. 21.
PROSPECTIVE FIELDS FOR UPCOMING STAKES
$350,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2), 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs on the main track (Entries taken Saturday; race is Saturday, Oct. 21) – Alva Starr (trainer Brett Brinkman), Lady Radler (Michael Campbell), Lily Poo (Michael McCarthy), Nom de Plume (Paulo Lobo), Simply Stated (Todd Beattie), Vahva (Cherie DeVaux). Possible: Apple Picker (Brittany Russell.).
$250,000 Perryville (L), 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs on the main track (Entries taken Saturday; race is Saturday, Oct. 21) – Dr. Venkman (Mark Glatt), Verifying (Brad Cox). Possibles: Loyal Company (Brendan Walsh), Major Blue (D. Wayne Lukas), Post Time (Russell).
$300,000 Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3), 3-year-old and up fillies and mares, 1½ miles on the turf (Entries taken Sunday; race is Sunday, Oct. 22) – Be Up (Mike Maker), Henrietta Topham (Geoff Mulcahy), Loved Reiko (Rusty Arnold), Personal Best (Shug McGaughey), Romagna Mia (GB) (Graham Motion), Transient (GB) (Saffie Joseph Jr.), Vergara (Motion). Possible: Lovely Princess (Kenny McPeek).