Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Fillies All Around

Posted by Brian Appleton on June 28, 2011

It’s becoming the norm now, but just a few years ago it was an almost unheard of occurrence: fillies facing the boys. Rags To Riches was the first to shatter the proverbial glass ceiling in 2007, defeating future champion and dual-Horse of the Year Curlin in the Belmont Stakes, along with a talented cast of sophomore males including Hard Spun and Tiago. Eight Belles turned in a tragically stellar performance to finish ahead of the nation’s best 3-year-old males in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, second only to the freakish Big Brown. In 2009 Rachel Alexandra took the shattered glass fragments and ground them to dust with the most powerful trio of Grade 1 wins a filly ever strung together in a single season to defeat males. She captured the Preakness Stakes, Haskell and Woodward Stakes, defeating the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winners while making a mockery of the Older Male division. Zenyatta took a thrilling page out of the book in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic when she flung the dust to the wind, “girl-handling” a stellar field of international males to become the first female winner of the prestigious event. She came ever so close to making it back-to-back magical wins in the 2010 Classic when she missed by an excruciating nose to Blame after an impossible stretch rally. Add to those aforementioned fillies the names of Zarkava, Goldikova and Indian Blessing on the international front and you’ve got a massive amount of domination going on across the globe where the fillies are concerned.

2011 seems to be continuing the popular trend as Austrailian super-star, and #1 rated race horse in the world, Black Caviar has sustained her unbeaten ways, defeating the best males down under with disdainful ease. Keertana took down a solid cast of males in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap, becoming the first female to win the race in its 74 running’s, nailing the decision by a nose in a three horse photo finish. Her historic win kept the movement alive in the North America, but it was Inglorious who really raised the bar this year in Canada. The 152nd running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate is the first leg of Canada’s Triple Crown which includes the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes on July 17th at Fort Erie and the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes On August 7th at Woodbine on grass. On Saturday Inglorious became the 34th filly to win the prized race and the first since 2001 with her impressive 2 ½ length romp in the Queen’s Plate. She tracked race favorite Check Your Soul into the stretch, responded with an explosive kick at the urging of jockey Luis Contreras and rolled home an easy winner over 16 males rivals, the largest field since 1999.

With leading older fillies Havre de Grace and Blind Luck both in top form now and possibly heading for a showdown in the Delaware Handicap, the connections of both fillies have expressed an interest in facing males this year, possibly in the Breeders’ Cup this fall. That would make things even more interesting not to mention garnering some much needed publicity for the sport. I for one hope to see both fillies face and defeat the males this year, this is a trend racing fans love and can root for with more pronounced passion.


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