Princess of Sylmar clinched the 3-year-old filly championship when she won the Alabama Stakes on Aug. 17 (Photos courtesy Eclipse Sportswire).
One down, 10 to go.
There is still about 4 ½ months left in 2013, but if there’s one sure thing about Thoroughbred racing’s post-season honors, it’s that one of the 11 Eclipse statues for champions ranging from juveniles to steeplechasers will be presented to Princess of Sylmar as the year’s outstanding 3-year-old filly.
Princess of Sylmar’s 2 ½-length victory in Saturday’s Alabama was the clincher as it gave her consecutive victories in the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama, three of the most important stakes of the year for 3-year-old fillies.
Where she heads next is shrouded in uncertainty, largely because she is not nominated to the Breeders’ Cup. Skipping the BC Distaff could conceivably open the door for someone to steal the crown from her, but the odds of that happening seem even longer than Princess of Sylmar’s 38-1 price on the toteboard for the Kentucky Oaks.
PRINCESS OF SYLMAR WON THE KENTUCKY OAKS OVER 2-YEAR-OLD CHAMPION BEHOLDER
In reality, the race for the 3-year-old filly title is even more lopsided than the Alabama proved to be. There’s no real competition for her.
If there’s such a thing, the main challengers to her would be Fiftyshadesofhay, who was second in the Alabama, Dreaming of Julia, Midnight Lucky and Close Hatches. Yet even if one of them beats older horses in races like the Beldame or BC Distaff that probably will not be enough to edge past Princess of Sylmar, who has the trio of Grade 1 wins plus two wins from her three previous starts in 2013.
She also has a very valid reason for skipping the Breeders’ Cup.
Meanwhile, of the others, the only ones with Grade 1 wins are Midnight Lucky in the Acorn and Close Hatches in the Mother Goose. Close Hatches did hand Princess of Sylmar her lone loss of 2013 back in April in the Gazelle, but none of the group comes even remotely close to Princess of Sylmar’s accomplishments.
Becoming the first filly since Open Mind In 1989 to capture the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama sort of speaks for itself and even if a 3-year-old filly wins the BC Distaff, one glorious day in November cannot outshine a stretch of brilliance from May to August, and perhaps beyond.
The irony of the situation is that early in the year the 3-year-old filly division seemed to have the best and deepest array of talent of any division. Now it has a runaway leader whose connections can start to craft an acceptance speech for the Eclipse Awards in January.
One title down, 10 to go.