BC Internationals: Filly & Mare Turf contender Queen's Trust
Only the great Ouija Board has won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) twice, in non-consecutive years, and defending champion Queen’s Trust would have had a serious chance to become the first repeat winner – but for the shortened 1 1/8-mile distance at Del Mar.
The Sir Michael Stoute trainee needed every yard of 1 1/4 miles last year at Santa Anita to nip Lady Eli:
And as explored in her international profile for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup, Queen’s Trust hinted that this was her ideal trip when chasing Minding home in the 10-furlong Nassau (G1). She’s had useful results going longer too, so if officialdom had decided to hold the 2017 Filly & Mare Turf over 1 3/8 miles, that would have suited her fine.
Indeed, lengthening by a furlong would have made for historical consistency. The inaugural running at Gulfstream Park in 1999, and the editions staged at Churchill Downs, Lone Star, and Monmouth, were all 1 3/8 miles – the distance of both of Ouija Board’s triumphs. The 2015 running at Keeneland was 1 3/16 miles, but truncating the Filly & Mare Turf further to nine furlongs changes the character of the race, and possibly the winner.
Having the conditions of her career-defining victory changed on her is basically her 2017 in microcosm. Queen’s Trust has had a frustrating time with a weather-riddled 2017 campaign.
The Cheveley Park homebred caught a rain-affected track in her seasonal reappearance in the Middleton (G2) at York. Launching a bold bid before laboring, she wound up fourth to eventual E.P. Taylor (G1) winner Blond Me and The Black Princess, who garnered the Lancashire Oaks (G2) in her next start.
Blond Me causes a bit of an upset for in-form Andrew Balding in the Betfred Middleton Stakes pic.twitter.com/4PzlRxeVFs— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) May 18, 2017
For the one and only time all season, Queen’s Trust got her firm turf at Royal Ascot. That coincided with her most challenging assignment versus males in the Prince of Wales’s (G1), but she ran a mighty race in defeat after a troubled start that left her farther back. The race shape suited horses closer to the pace, and she was the only deep closer to make an impact. Rallying strongly, she snatched fourth, beaten all of two lengths by Highland Reel. Decorated Knight and Ulysses were the placegetters, so it took three Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) horses to beat her.
Back at Goodwood for the Nassau, Queen’s Trust had the playing field stacked against her thanks to the deluge at the “Glorious” meeting that left the turf soft. She churned home last of six to the streaking Winter and soft-ground aficionado Blond Me. Hydrangea, the future Matron (G1) and British Champions Fillies & Mares (G1) winner, was fourth, and Filly & Mare Turf rivals Wuheida and Nezwaah (profiles to follow) scratched due to the going.
A great performance from Winter who wins the Qatar Nassau Stakes under Ryan Moore. Her fourth Group One success of the season. pic.twitter.com/T90g4sU4Xz— Goodwood Racecourse (@Goodwood_Races) August 3, 2017
The rain followed her up north for the Yorkshire Oaks (G1). Although 1 1/2 miles stretches her anyway, Queen’s Trust was a solid third last year to Seventh Heaven and Found, and she replicated that finish here. She deserves extra credit for keeping tabs on future Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) star Enable most of the way, and trying her utmost before tiring. Overtaken late by Coronet for second, she salvaged third from the staying-on Nezwaah.
Queen’s Trust reverted to her preferred distance for the Prix de l’Opera (G1) on Arc Day, only to be bedeviled by the soft again. She trudged home a one-paced eighth behind Rhododendron (whose Filly & Mare Turf profile is on the way).
Considering how well she performed when getting her conditions in the Prince of Wales’s, Queen’s Trust remains capable of delivering her best effort at Del Mar. But it’s a question whether she can deploy as effectively at 1 1/8 miles, a distance that likely favors Lady Eli in the rematch. The daughter of Dansili has been competing at 1 1/4 miles or upwards since the beginning of her sophomore season. The presumably fast pace courtesy of Avenge and Zipessa would turn it into more of a test, but if she drops too far off it from post 10, she may run out of real estate.
That said, the defending champion can’t be underestimated now that she’s back in her element, especially at a 12-1 morning line with last year’s winning rider, Frankie Dettori, back aboard.
Photo by Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com