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By Ellis Starr – National Racing Analyst for Equibase

The 30th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes brings together a field of nine 3-year-old fillies, four of whom enter the race off of stakes victories. Of that quartet, Alterite earned her recent win at the highest-class level when taking the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes last month at Belmont Park in her U.S. debut. I'm Already Sexy earned her second stakes win in a row on the same date in September but at Arlington Park in the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes when leading from start to finish. Before that, she won the non-graded Hatoof Stakes from just off the pace. Another recent stakes winner, Sarach ships in to Kentucky from Southern California after winning the Sandy Blue Handicap. She has proven herself at a high level when winning the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap two races prior to that. Say, a recent European import like Alterite, makes her second start in North America as well, having just run one week ago when sixth in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes in a driving rainstorm. Two races prior to that, she won the Group 3 Dance Design Stakes and in-between missed by less than a length in the Group 1 Matron Stakes, so she has a right to rebound dramatically. Caroline Thomas is another recent winner in top company, winning the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes by disqualification in August. Leigh Court ships down from Canada, where she won three straight stakes including the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen Stakes. Kitten's Dumplings won the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes in July before a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. Emotional Kitten is searching for her first graded stakes win, her best victory to date in her 12-race career coming three races ago when winning the Hilltop Stakes. She did outfinish her stablemate (also owned by North American leading owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey) when third in the Del Mar Oaks recently. Concise rounds out the field, winless in three North American starts though a close third to Alterite in the Garden City last month.

Say returns on six days rest, having just run on Oct. 5 in the First Lady Stakes. Just prior to that race, the skies opened up and a pouring rain drowned the course, which went from firm to yielding in just minutes. As such, I believe that effort can be ignored, as the filly did not do much running. Prior to the First Lady, Say finished third, beaten just a half-length, in the Matron Stakes in Ireland, earning a 113 Timeform rating that is equivalent to a 106 Equibase Speed Figure. In July of this year in the Kilboy Estate Stakes, Say finished second to Dank, who won the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park. Now facing 3-year-olds only after facing tougher foes in her last eight races and the only horse in the field that has faced older horses to date, Say has a legitimate shot to rebound to winning form and in doing so, follow in the footsteps of Together, who for the same owners came to North America in 2011 and won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes.

I'm Already Sexy has won five of nine races in her career, including two stakes races in a row. Her most recent victory came in the Pucker Up Stakes last month at the distance of the Queen Elizabeth II, earning a career best 108 Equibase Speed Figure in the process. Having shown versatility in leading from the start in the Pucker Up and coming from off the pace prior to that in the Hatoof Stakes, I'm Already Sexy should be a formidable foe once again.


Im Already Sexy Inside

Four Footed Fotos

Caroline Thomas did not do much running when seventh last month in the Garden City Stakes, but one month earlier she ran the best race of her career when beaten by a nose in the Lake Placid Stakes with a 101 Equibase Speed Figure before she was moved up to first via disqualification. Jockey Rosie Napravnik has ridden Caroline Thomas just once previously, in the Garden City, and gets back aboard for the Queen Elizabeth II, which could help this talented filly to return to competitive form.

Alterite was facing some of the best in Europe, just like Say, before coming to North America recently, although all her races were against 3-year-olds like this test. In her U.S. debut last month, Alterite won in a talented field of 10 and did so pretty easily when victorious in the Garden City Stakes with a 99 Equibase Speed Figure that certainly has potential to be improved upon in her second U.S. start. Two races prior to that, Alterite missed by a nose in the Prix Saint-Alary in France, a Group 1 race. Having proven competitive at the highest level twice in recent history, Alterite may do so again in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes.

The rest of the field (with best representative Equibase Speed Figure): Concise (100), Emotional Kitten (100), Leigh Court (99), Kitten's Dumplings (100) and Sarach (96).

My Selections:


I'm Already Sexy

Caroline Thomas


$400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes

Saturday, Race 9, Keeneland, 5:21 p.m. ET

3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles turf







Martin Garcia

Richard Mandella



James Graham

Aidan O'Brien


Caroline Thomas

Rosie Napravnik

Barclay Tagg



John Velazquez

Chad Brown


Emotional Kitten

Garrett Gomez

Wesley Ward



Edgar Prado

Graham Motion


Kitten's Dumplings

Julien Leparoux

Mike Maker


Leigh Court

Gary Boulanger

Josie Carroll


I'm Already Sexy

Florent Geroux

Wayne Catalano

All carry 121 pounds. Blinkers On: Say

You can get Ellis' full card selections for Keeneland and other tracks at


Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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