Las Vegas, NV - The 29th running of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes takes place this Saturday, October 13 from Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. Three year olds will be after their share of the $400,000 purse when they race 1 1/8 miles on Keeneland's turf track.
The Queen Elizabeth has attracted a strong field of 8 for race 9 on Keeneland's Saturday card. Post time is 5:21 PM. Here is a look at all eight combatants and what brought them to this Grade 1 event.
Samitar - Irish filly Samitar makes her third start on North American soil after a decent career in her native land on Saturday. She finished a good third place finish in her debut at the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga on July 25 and followed that with an impressive score last time out in the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes here on September 15. Among her impressive results at home was an upset win in the One Guineas in a race that put her firmly on the radar. She will look to build on her first North American win on Saturday and should be in the mix for sure.
Stephanie's Kitten - had a very productive Juvenile campaign in which she won or placed in all five starts (three wins and two third place finishes). Among Stephanie's Kitten's impressive wins is the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 4 and before that the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes in October. Stephanie's Kitten was a leading Juvenile filly on dirt and turf last year and has looked OK so far in four starts this year. Last time out was a nice win in the Grade 1 Lake Placid to follow a fourth in the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes on July 25 and a win in the minor Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs in May. She has placed in eight of nine starts and enters the Queen Elizabeth in very good form.
Dayatthespa - has won all four of her starts of 2012 - the Riskaverse Stakes at Saratoga August 31, the Grade 3 Appalacian back in April, the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes on March 11 and the Sweetest Chant Stakes on January 22 both at Gulfstream. Dayatthespa has all but erased a disappointing end to 2011 and comes into this weekend as the hottest horse in the field.
Centre Court - came into the Lake Placid absolutely on fire - three straight wins including the Grade 2 Lake George, the Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs before that and a Maiden Special Weight before that. She finished second in the Lake Placid to end the streak but still remains one of the top three year old turf filly in the country and should be a factor Saturday.
Somali Lemonade - finished rather disappointing sixth in the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 4 at Churchill Downs to end her 2011 campaign and has looked just OK in her four starts of 2012 - two seconds (the Grade 1 Garden City last time out and the Grade 3 Appalachian April 19) and two thirds (the Grade 2 Lake Placid August 19 and the Grade 3 Boiling Point Stakes June 23). Somali Lemonade does have two wins in her nine race career - the Grade 3 JP Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes in October and a Maiden Special Weight score at Belmont Park last September 11 but enters in so-so form against a very tough field this weekend.
Better Lucky - finished fifth most recently in the Grade 2 Lake Placid to follow a second to Centre Court in the Grade 2 Lake George and a win in the Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park in May - those three starts represented her only races on turf. She has won two of her last four starts but has failed to taste victory in her last two.
Tannery - made her North American debut in the Grade 1 Garden City with a decent third after a good year racing in Ireland. She enters Saturday's race having won four of her last six starts overall with all four of her career wins coming over that span.
Treasured Up - has eight career starts with two wins, a second and two third place finishes - her most impressive result being a third in the Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs in June. Since then she has recorded a sixth in the Grade 3 Arlington Oaks and a fourth last time out in the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes.
Race 9 on Keeneland's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:21 PM.
||B. Hernandez, Jr.
||A. Stall, Jr.
||G. Arnold, II
||J. Rocco, Jr.