Speed Rules the Fleur de Lis Handicap
By: Laurie Ross, IMTBreds
The 1 1/8 mile Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) attracted a competitive field of nine older fillies and mares. A fairly new race by historical standards, the Fleur de Lis is on the resume of many of the best mares in history: Serena’s Song, Escena, Banshee Breeze, Spain, Hystericalady, Rachel Alexandra, Royal Delta and Forever Unbridled.
The race is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” stakes event – the winner earns an automatic spot in the in the Starting Gate of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.
Let’s review the 2018 Fleur de Lis Handicap field to see who will join the illustrious roster.
FARRELL is the 3-1 favorite. The free-running filly made all the pace in the 1 1/16 mile La Troienne on KY Oaks day but was run down late by Salty. The Wayne Catalano trainee breaks from the outside, adds a half-furlong and will need to use her early speed to get her preferred spot at the front of the pack.
A trio of fillies who filled out the 1 1/8 mile DuPont Distaff the day before the Preakness should benefit from a dry track.
SONG OF SPRING rallied from off the pace, after going five-wide on the far turn to get up in the shadow of the wire to best the favorite, BLUE PRIZE (ARG). That courageous filly dueled the entire way, only to drift badly in late stretch and have victory snatched away at the last second. FUHRIOUSLY KISSED ran well to be third.
Farrell will have to deal with the speed of APOLOGYNOTACCEPTED, who breaks just inside of her. The Brendan Walsh conditioned filly placed second in the 1 1/16 mile Double Dog Dare last time out, as she couldn’t withstand the charge of VALADORNA. That one has finished off the board only once. APOLOGYNOTACCEPTED was second in last year’s edition of the Fleur de Lis.
MOPOTISM invades from California, where she’s been keeping tough company such as G1 winners Fault and Unique Bella. The Fleur de Lis is actually softer company for the daughter of Uncle Mo.
AWESTRUCK takes on graded stakes company for the first time. The pretty gray daughter of Tapit is also stretching out, after a diet of sprinter/miler allowance contests. She has the pedigree to love the extra distance and enters after beating allowance company by over six lengths last out at Churchill.
STREAMLINE, last seen tiring late in the La Troienne is reunited with jockey Chris Landeros. They teamed up with good results earlier in the year.
How the race shapes up
FARRELL, APOLOGYNOTACCEPTED, BLUE PRIZE and possibly AWESTRUCK may keep things interesting in the early stages of the Fleur de Lis. VALADORNA, MOPOTISM, and STREAMLINE will settle mid-pack while SONG OF SPRING and FUHRIOUSLY KISSED will linger at the back of the pack.
VALADORNA can get the jump on SONG OF SPRING. The daughter of Curlin has finished off the board only once since last November. Song of Spring has experience at the distance, but her 6-1-0-1 record at Churchill isn’t great. Blue Prize is a tough mare who doesn’t like to lose, but she may be softened up by the early pace.
#7 VALADORNA (4-1)
#5 SONG OF SPRING (6-1)
#3 BLUE PRIZE (7-2)
#8 APOLOGYNOTACCEPTED (12-1)
This is a competitive race. The top four fillies have a legitimate shot at winning, so let’s get imaginative with ThoroFan’s virtual $100.
$1 Super Key:
7/5,3,8,1 = $24
5/7,3,8,1 = $24
3/5,7,8,1 = $24
8/3,5,7,1 = $24
$2 left for a wager on the Stephen Foster.