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HORSE RACING

It's like the World Series for fillies

Today is ladies' day at Santa Anita. Fifty-nine fillies and mares are scheduled to run in five Breeders' Cup races and compete for a combined $8 million. A crowd of perhaps 40,000 will be looking to cash in themselves, in what can best be described a mega-crapshoot in this first of two days of the 25th rendition of the Breeders' Cup World Championships. A glimpse of the races:

October 24, 2008|Pete Thomas

$1-million Filly & Mare Sprint

3-year-olds and up, seven furlongs.

Question: Will Mike Smith, aboard Dearest Trickski, win aboard his first of four mounts and launch a quest to become the first jockey ever to win four races at one Breeders' Cup?

Answer: Definitely possible, despite the horse being listed at 15-1 on the morning line.

Worth noting: Indian Blessing, at 2-1, and jockey John Velazquez may have something to say about Smith's endeavor. So might Intangaroo, Zaftig and Ventura.

Don't count out: Dearest Trickski. Smith is four for four aboard the daughter of Proudest Romeo, who loves the synthetic surface.

$1-million Juvenile Fillies Turf

2-year-old fillies, one mile.

Question: Who will step forward in a race with 12 strong entrants?

Answer: Throw a dart at this page on your program and you may find your winner. This is that kind of race. Saucey Evening, winner of the California Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita last time out, may have an edge but drew an unfavorable No. 11 post.

Worth noting: Laragh, one of three automatic qualifiers in the field, was listed as the morning-line favorite at 7-2.

Don't count out: Sugar Mom is racing well and is coming off a victory in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies.

$2-million Juvenile Fillies

2-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles.

Question: Will Smith, aboard dynamic Stardom Bound, be upstaged by girlfriend Chantal Sutherland, who is aboard Van Lear Rose?

Answer: Not likely. The former is the morning-line 8-5 favorite; the latter is 30-1.

Worth noting: This is a west-east showdown between Stardom Bound, coming off victories in the Del Mar Debutante and Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita, and Sky Diva, who followed a 10-length victory at Delaware Park with a four-length romp in the Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park.

Don't count out: Dream Empress, who earned her spot with a 4 1/4 -length victory in the Grade I Alcibiades Stakes after sitting off the pace.

$2-million Filly & Mare Turf

3-year-olds and up, 1 1/4 miles.

Question: Will Wait A While, who has won all three of her career starts on the Santa Anita turf, make it four with jockey John Velazquez still aboard?

Answer: Oddsmakers make the Arindel Farms filly a 3-1 morning-line favorite, and she has a favorable No. 5 post position. Said trainer Todd Pletcher: "Her last two races are as good as she's ever been, and she obviously loves this course."

Worth noting: There are three capable foreign-based horses, the best of which might be Halfway To Heaven (Ireland), who arrived Monday with the Aidan O'Brien-trained group. Halfway To Heaven, who will be ridden by Johnny Murtagh, has won three Group 1 stakes races this year.

Don't count out: Mauralakana, winner of five of her last seven.

$2-million Ladies' Classic

3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/8 miles

Question: Will the flying carpet known as Zenyatta, with Smith aboard, remain unbeaten after nine races? Or will defending event champion Ginger Punch bring her rival back to earth?

Answer: Zenyatta was made the 3-5 morning-line favorite and defeated Ginger Punch, who is 9-2, in their lone meeting in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in April. Ginger Punch drew the No. 6 post, while Zenyatta is on the rail. Said Ginger Punch trainer Bobby Frankel: "From there, there will be no excuses."

Worth noting: Ginger Punch, who is ridden by Rafael Bejarano, is coming off a runner-up finish to Cocoa Beach in the Beldame Stakes. Cocoa Beach is 10-1.

Don't count out: Cocoa Beach (Chile) or Music Note, both trained by Saeed bin Suroor. The former is undefeated in two starts in the U.S.

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