BigDaddy News

Horse Racing News

Classy Euro Fillies Square Off in QEII Challenge Cup

There’s a European invasion on hand for this year’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland. The boutique grade 1, which is by invitation only, has drawn one of its strongest fields in quite some time for the Oct. 14 edition. Of the 12 3-year-old fillies entered in the 1 1/8 mile turf event, seven (eight counting the also-eligible entrant) are foreign-bred, three are foreign-trained, and five have made one of their last two starts in Europe.

The surprise kicker to this year’s race is the addition of the high-class Godolphin runner, Mawj , conqueror of Tahiyra  in the One Thousand Guineas (G1) at Newmarket. Tahiyra has become somewhat of a superstar of a filly over in Europe, landing the Irish One Thousand Guineas (G1), Coronation Stakes (G1), and Matron Stakes (G1) in her last three starts.

Irish-bred Mawj, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, has been unraced since her sterling Guineas victory. The Exceed And Excel filly has proven successful off lengthy layoffs in the past, however, as she showed with her two easy victories in Dubai to begin her sophomore season.

Jockey Oisin Murphy makes the trip to ride the Godolphin filly.

Mawj’s biggest challenge should come from Saratoga Oaks Invitational Stakes (G3T) winner Elusive Princess . Previously trained in France by Jean-Philippe Dubois, the daughter of Martinborough  made a smashing North American debut last month in Saratoga Race Course, rolling from well off the pace to capture the Saratoga Oaks by 3 1/4 lengths over American Sonja  and the reopposing (and unlucky) Papillo from the Mark Casse barn.

Sign up for

Now under the care of Fair Hill Training Center-based conditioner Arnaud Delacour, Elusive Princess will be shortening up in trip and need to prove she is just as effective at 1 1/8 miles as she is at longer distances. A number of the filly’s finer performances have also come over softer ground, which means if rain befalls the Lexington area in the days before the Queen Elizabeth II, Elusive Princess will be the one to catch.

Campaigned by LNJ Foxwoods, Ecurie Victoria Dreams, NK Racing, and Anthony Munafo, the French-bred filly was a narrow runner-up in the 1 1/4-mile Prix Saint-Alary (G1) three starts back.

Flavien Prat retains the mount.

Everest Racing’s Lindy  enters the Queen Elizabeth II fray under similar circumstances. Lindy was previously trained and raced in France for Christophe Ferland with her best overseas effort coming in a second-place finish to top French filly Blue Rose Cen  in the French One Thousand Guineas (G1) in May. Sent to the United States barn of Brendan Walsh, Lindy then took her picture at Kentucky Downs in her first start for her new connections in a one-mile allowance optional claimer Sept. 7.

Tyler Gaffalione will be back aboard the Le Havre  filly, who, like Elusive Princess, appears to prefer some give in the ground.

Not to be discounted from the domestic team are the Chad Brown-trained pair of Liguria  and Prerequisite . Brown has won the Queen Elizabeth II an unprecedented five times, including four times in the last five years. The trainer captured last year’s edition with the Peter Brant-owned Gina Romantica .

The Brown duo, while both longshots respectively in this deep field, are graded stakes winners with the potential to steal the race given the right trip. Leading jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., never one to be left out of a ticket, has the call on Prerequisite. The front-running Upstart   filly could try to take the field from flag fall to finish as she did when just beaten at the wire by Aspen Grove  in the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T).

Entries: Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S. Presented by Dixiana (G1T)

Keeneland, Saturday, October 14, 2023, Race 9

  • Grade IT
  • 1 1/8m
  • Turf
  • $600,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 5:16 PM (local)

Leave feedback about this

  • Quality
  • Price
  • Service


Add Field


Add Field
Choose Image
Choose Video

Want To Earn From Skills ?

Bonus On New ID