The Grade 1, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes presented by Lanes End is a race open to three year old fillies by invitation only. Eight horses accepted the invitation to run, the field led by Rushing Fall, who has won five of six career races including the 2017 Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, with a narrow defeat by a neck in her only other start. Among the seven horses lined up to beat the presumptive betting favorite, there are a number of horses with top credentials.
One of those is Mission Impassible (IRE), who makes her first start in North America following four wins in nine races including the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham Stakes in France earlier this year. Another import is Nyaleti (IRE), winner of the Group 2 German 1000 Guineas in May. Although her last race was in Europe, Nyaleti (IRE) came to the states for a sixth place finish in the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes in early August before a fifth place finish in England at the end of the same month. U.S. based runner Secret Message has been competitive in lesser company and may be able to step up to this level as she won the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes in August before a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes last month.
Capla Temptress (IRE) finished seventh in the Sands Point in her most recent race but prior to that finished second behind Rushing Fall in the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes. Princess Warrior was a non-threatening third in the Pucker Up while Daddy Is a Legend finished third in the Lake Placid and prior to that won the Grade 3 Lake George Stakes. All four of these fillies have yet to prove competitive at the Grade 1 stakes level. One horse who has proven herself at the top level is Fatale Bere (FR), winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in her most recent start, making her the one mostly likely to keep Rushing Fall from winning for the sixth time in seven career starts.
Rushing Fall burst on the scene a little over a year ago with a visually impressive victory in her debut then proceeded to win her next three starts as a two year old, improving from a 94 Equibase Speed Figure to 97 then 108 when winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last November. Rested five months, Rushing Fall returned a winner in the Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland where she had won the JP Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes six months earlier, before a gallant effort when beaten a neck in the Edgewood Stakes in May. Given three and one-half months off to mature some more, Rushing Fall earned a career-best 110 figure when exceeding her best effort ever in the Lake Placid Stakes on a soggy turf course and at the distance of the Queen Elizabeth II. With jockey Javier Castellano the only pilot she's known in her six races to date and riding once again and with a new career-best effort likely today, this superbly talented filly could be tough to beat.
Fatale Bere (FR) is the biggest threat to Rushing Fall in this race as she exceeded the 110 figure Rushing Fall earned in the Lake Placid with a 113 figure effort when rallying five paths wide and passing seven horses to win the Del Mar Oaks. Run at the distance of the Queen Elizabeth II, the victory brought her record at the distance on turf to two-for-two. Although Fatale Bere (FR) ran the distance three times, one of those (in June) doesn't count as her saddle slipped during the race and the jockey lost any ability he would have otherwise had to guide and control her. Jockey Kent Desormeaux rode Fatale Bere (FR) in her U.S. debut one year ago when she won the Surfer Girl Stakes as well as rode her in the Del Mar Oaks and appears to have the key to this filly running the same or better as that last race, which could help her to post the upset win.
Mission Impassible (IRE) and Nyaleti (IRE) both have races in their recent past which, if repeated, would make them competitive here. Mission Impassible (IRE) won the Prix de Sandringham Stakes in June with a 112 figure before a fifth place effort in the tougher Prix Rothschild while Nyaleti (IRE) won the German 1000 Guineas Stakes in May with a 109 figure before two poorer efforts. However, although she was fifth in her most recent race, she earned a career-best 118 figure when beaten just one and one-quarter lengths versus males in a very tough edition of the Celebration Mile Stakes versus older foes. Back against her own age group, Nyaleti (IRE) has potential to be competitive in this race if she repeats that last effort.
The rest of the Queen Elizabeth II field, with their best representative E Figures is Capla Temptress (IRE) (106), Daddy Is a Legend (102), Princess Warrior (95) and Secret Message (102).
Fatale Bere (FR)
You can get Ellis' detailed selections for Keeneland every racing day at Equibase.
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