They've been running the Alabama Stakes for three year old fillies since 1872 and it is a race that stands out on any fillies resume. There have been some great ones over the years. How about Songbird, Royal Delta, Sky Beauty, Go For Wand, and Open Mind just to name a few! This year's edition may not have quite the glow of some of those illustrious winners, but it presents an interesting challenge for the handicapper just the same.
Lets look at the field.
1. Piedi Bianchi
She ran some nice ones as a two year old in Grade 1 races but was not quite able to get the job done. Her return in the NW1 allowance race was probably just a tightener for this, but still would've liked to see more than a non threating third.
She's gone from O'neill to Pletcher and draws the rail here. She's not entirely out of this because she'll get the inside stalkers trip, but I just can't get too excited about her. I like a couple of others more, including the horse to her immediate outside.
2. Eskimo Kisses
She's been chasing Monomoy Girl all Spring and Summer and that has proved to be an impossible task for all the three year old fillies this year. Now she draws inside, there's no Monomoy Girl to worry about, and she figures to get the ideal inside stalkers trip in a race that has some speed.
She'll be saving a lot of ground and mowing them down at the end. Look for her to be passing them all. She is my pick to win!
3. Midnight Bisou
She's another who will be glad that Monomoy Girl is sitting this one out. She's run a couple of respectable races against that one and will probably be one of the strong favorites in here.
She'll be close up in the mix from the start, but it's difficult to see her actually getting the lead because I think Talk Veuve To Me is leaving from the outside and probably has enough speed to clear. She might be in the mix, but I like Eskimo Kisses more.
4. She's a Julie
She ran a giant one in the Iowa Oaks and now gets the acid test chasing one of the premier races of the year for three year old fillies. She has the right style, but these might be a little too tough. I'll be using her underneath because she's working like a machine and seems to be on the improve.
5. Auspicious Babe
Auspicious Babe is making quite the auspicious move in this one! Her last two at Churchill were nice races, but this is an entirely different kettle of fish. If nothing else, she is appropriately named. I'll pass.
6. Figarella's Queen
She finished behind the outside horse in the Indiana Oaks while making a decent close. Since Talk Veuve To Me will be leaving from the outside and may have to make a push to get the lead, she should be able to get a decent tuck behind the leaders and make a late run. I don't think she'll win, but definitely could hit the board.
7. Coach Rocks
She could make things interesting for the outside horse if she decides to push from here. Even if she doesn't make the lead, I can see her making Talk Veuve To Me work harder than she wants to for the front.
Eskimo Kisses will be hoping for a contentious pace and she will need this one to play a role in that scenario. Coach Rocks will be hard pressed to get the trip she needs to win, so I'm playing against her.
8. Talk Veuve To Me
She is the main speed and the key to the race. Can she clear and slow it down? I don't think so. This is not Monomoy Girl. I think she'll have to work on the front, answer mid race challenges from Midnight Bisou and Coach Rocks, then hold off the closers at a mile and a quarter. I simply can't see it. I'm playing against her.
Well, it's an interesting group and there are several possible pace scenarios, so it all depends on how you see it unfolding. I see Eskimo Kisses sitting the perfect inside stalkers trip and mowing them down in the lane. I'll bet the 2 to win and wheel her in exactas.
Good luck to all who are playing!