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Winter Memories Tackles Summer Soiree in QE II Cup

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 10/14/2011 7:31:48 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds – Winter Memories, Summer Soiree
What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup
Where: Keeneland
When: Saturday, October 15th

Saturday’s Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland has attracted a deep and highly-accomplished field of eight sophomore fillies. While Winter Memories and Summer Soiree are expected to vie for favoritism, there are several others who could make life difficult for the top pair. Let’s assess the chances of all eight participants in this prestigious grass event.

1-Star Billing: The first of two John Shirreffs trainees shipping in from the left coast (the other is #5-Nereid) sports a resume that is nearly a carbon copy of her stablemate’s. Both fillies have made five starts, with five in-the-money finishes. Star Billing has banked $202,400, while Nereid has earned $198,800. Their last three Beyer Speed Figures (most recent first) are 97, 92 and 87. Nereid got the better of Star Billing two back by a head, and Star Billing returned the favor last out by a nose. Both fillies are versatile, with Star Billing likely to launch her bid from a bit farther out of it. The regular riders of both fillies will be aboard on Saturday. Both are 6-1 on the morning line. Neither would be a huge surprise in the top slot, but I’m expecting them to round out the exotics.

2-Together: This Aidan O’Brien-trained filly must have an iron constitution…she returned from a 2 ½-month break to run second vs. older fillies and mares in a Group 1 event in Ireland, raced three weeks later in a Group 1 in England, shipped across the Atlantic to finish second vs. her elders in Keeneland’s Grade 1 First Lady off a two-week break, and wheels back in this event a week later…whew! Her five runner-up finishes in Grade/Group 1 races suggest she may have trouble closing the deal, but she’s got a ton of class, and will be running late.

3-Winter Memories: This gray bullet has endeared herself to racing fans with a series of thrilling, come-from-behind victories (6 in 8 starts to be exact). She accomplished her final furlong last out in a scintillating :10 4/5 seconds to capture the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont by a neck. Some may find fault with her top Beyer of 95, and in The QE II, she may have to overcome a moderate pace. Still, she’ll be tough to hold off in the late going with a decent trip.

4-Marketing Mix: She’s 2-for-2 on the lawn, and the ease with which she won suggests she’s got upside. She’ll need it vs. this bunch. The presence of Garrett Gomez, a “go to” guy for top turf trainer Tom Proctor, makes this filly a live longshot.

5-Nereid: Note the comments above for #1-Star Billing.

6-More Than Real: More Than Ready filly captured The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last year at the expense of Winter Memories…but that was last year. In 2011, Winter Memories has handled this opponent rather easily. Pass.

7-Kathmanblu: After winning her first two starts of the year, Kathmanblu looked like she would be a major player in the division. However, things didn’t pan out as expected, and she’s had to settle for a pair of minor awards in five subsequent starts. It’s tough to picture her making a dent vs. this salty bunch.

8-Summer Soiree: She’s been super-impressive in her two turf outings, winning the Grade 3 Boiling Springs at Monmouth Park for fun and holding off the closers last out in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, after tracking a lively pace (:46 4/5 for the first half-mile). With no other true speed types in the race, Summer Soiree should have things all to herself on the front end, and new pilot Ramon Dominguez is as good as there is at slowing things down on the lead. Look for Summer Soiree to let it out a notch on the far turn, and give the closers too much to do in the late going. I’ll bet on Summer Soiree to take this field gate-to-wire at odds of 8-5 or better.

Those are my horse racing betting tips for the weekend. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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