Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf Berth Up for Grabs in Yorkshire Oaks

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August 21st, 2018

The major U.S.-based contenders for the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I) are already well established, with Sistercharlie leading the charge. On Thursday, we’ll get a look at possible contenders from Europe when eight fillies and mare contest the Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I) at York.

The 1 ½-mile test offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Filly & Mare Turf, though thus far only Islington in 2003 has managed to sweep the Yorkshire Oaks/Breeders’ Cup double.

Three-year-old fillies have won the last four renewals of the Yorkshire Oaks, so it’s not surprising that #8 Sea of Class and #6 Laurens—representing the sophomore age group—loom as the two favorites in the wagering. The lightly-raced Sea of Class, trained by William Haggas, is a neck away from being unbeaten in four starts and demonstrated her progressive form by rallying to an eye-catching victory in the 1 ½-mile Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I) one month ago, a performance that has stamped the daughter of Sea the Stars as the filly to beat on Thursday.

In contrast, the experienced Laurens has been competing at the stakes level since last summer and already has three Group 1 wins under her belt, including back-to-back triumphs in the Prix Saint-Alary (Fr-I) and the Prix de Diane Longines (Fr-I) earlier this year. The only concern is that Laurens has yet to travel farther than 10 ½ furlongs, but if she can carry her obvious talent over the extended distance of the Yorkshire Oaks, she should be tough when the real running begins.

Among the older mares, #1 Coronet—runner-up in this race last year—figures to attract the most support, especially since she finished a good third against males in the 1 ½-mile King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-I) last time out. She’ll be joined by fellow four-year-olds #3 Horseplay, who defeated Coronet in the Middleton Stakes (Eng-II) at York back in May, and #2 Eziyra, a four-time Group 3 winner who recently returned from a long layoff to win the 1 ½-mile Ballyroan Stakes (Ire-I) at Leopardstown.

Lastly, trainer will send out a trio of three-year-old fillies who have achieved varying levels of success thus far. The most accomplished might be #7 Magic Wand, winner of the 1 ½-mile Ribblesdale Stakes (Eng-II) at in June, but #4 Bye Bye Baby didn’t run badly when finishing third in the Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) and #5 Flattering prevailed in the Munster Oaks Stakes (Ire-III) three starts back, so they all have some respectable form on their records.

The Yorkshire Oaks is the fourth race of the day at York, with a post time of 9:35 a.m. Eastern.