Overdrawn Field Set to Contest Grade 1 Natalma Stakes
Courtesy of Aaron Halterman of the Racing Dudes
A full field of 15 juvenile fillies, and one also eligible, will line up this Saturday in search for glory in the Grade 1, $250,000 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine. The race serves as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event for the Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes. The field features a true international flavor as Chicas Amigas, Mintd, Pivottin, and La Pelosa all make their North American racing debuts. The race also drew in the $100,000 Bolton Landing Stakes winner Stillwater Cove, who will look to extend her winning streak in North America to an undefeated 3-for-3, with her only loss at Royal Ascot in the Group 3 Albany Stakes.
The winner of the Natalma Stakes will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes this fall at Churchill Downs. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the person who nominated the foal or racehorse. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based internationally.
Let’s take a look at the field:
#1 Not Orbinary – This daughter of Orb debuted with a third-place effort in a maiden special weight at this track, then went on to win her second start here by over 2 lengths. That race was on the synthetic surface, though, while her first race was on turf. It’s questionable whether the change in surface is what helped her break her maiden, or if it was the experience of having a race under her belt. Regardless, she must improve as she makes a giant class leap.
#2 Comic Kitten – She broke her maiden here at first asking going a mile and 70 yards over the synthetic track. The turf will be a new surface for her, but her win us that the distance here will not be a problem. If she takes to the turf, then she will be competitive.
#3 Chicas Amigas – Last time out, she won the Mongey Communications Stakes at Curragh by a nose, which was the second win of her career. At times, her form has been spotty, but she does seem to be coming into this race in good order off of that victory.
#4 Eyeinthesky – After breaking her maiden on debut at Churchill Downs in impressive fashion, trainer Mark Casse quickly entered her in the $150,000 Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park for her next start. She was a solid third there, but she then struggled to a 10th-place finish in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga. That poor performance prompted Casse to try her on turf next in the $100,000 Catch A Glimpse Stakes, where she finished fourth. It seems like this filly has been going backwards a little bit and needs to bounce back.
#5 Chasing the Kitty – Kitten’s Joy has always been a successful sire at Woodbine. Chasing the Kitty makes her debut here after finishing sixth last time out in the $100,000 P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga. She was never competitive there, but perhaps the soft turf conditions were not to her liking. She dazzled on debut at Presque Isle Downs, winning by over 10 lengths, which suggests that she has more talent than what she showed last time out.
#6 Bohemian Queen – Several horses in this race have only one or two starts, including this filly, who won her only race by a 1/2-length here in a maiden special weight. However, that win came over the synthetic surface, so she must prove that she can handle the turf here. She is by Animal Kingdom, though, so it will be no surprise if the turf surface leads to an improvement.
#7 Artilena – After finishing second on debut over this track, this filly came back to dominate her rivals by eleven lengths in a 7-furlong maiden special weight event. She really ran away from the field there, but it is important to note that the win came over the synthetic surface after it was rained off of the turf. That definitely leads to some question marks here, but she is talented.
#8 My Gal Betty – This is the most established North American horse in the race. All three of her starts have been at Woodbine, and last time out, she dominated her turf debut, winning the $100,000 Catch a Glimpse Stakes by over 4 lengths. She also crossed first in the $100,000 My Dear Stakes two races back but was DQed, and she broke her maiden here by 4 lengths. Her connections are always tough to beat here and she is the local hero with a big shot at winning.
#9 Bold Script – She broke her maiden on the turf at Woodbine on debut and was sent to the $100,000 Catch a Glimpse Stakes for her next start. She was a decent third in that race but was never a real threat to the winner. This stretch out in distance might help her turn the tables, but there is no doubt that she will need to show some improvement in order to have a chance.
#10 Mintd – This is the most interesting horse in the race as trainer Chad Brown brings a European shipper for her first try in North America. She was supposed to debit last time out in the $100,000 P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga, but she had to scratch from that racing after acting up and flipping in the gate. Brown is happy with how she has bounced back from that unfortunate incident and is showing great confidence in her by wheeling her back for this Grade 1 event. She has been working out very well leading up to this event.
#11 Pivottina – This filly brings solid European form with her for her North American debut. She broke her maiden on debut before finishing second in two straight races. After those starts, she tried her hand at the Group 2 Shadwell Prix du Calvados last time out, where she finished a solid fourth. The competition overseas is fierce, so if she can take to the North American style of racing, then she will be an intriguing player in this race.
#12 Stillwater Cove – She was overwhelmed at Royal Ascot, but in North American she has been solid. Last time out, she rolled home to win the $100,000 Bolton Landing Stakes at Saratoga by nearly 2 lengths. She stretches out in distance here, but she clearly is a very classy individual.
#13 La Pelosa – This European shipper comes in after a second-place finish in the Group 3 German-Thoroughbred.com Sweet Solera Stakes last time out at Newmarket. Overall, she has hit the board in 4 of 5 starts, though she has only won once. The competition overseas is much tougher than what she will face here, which will make her a major player despite this outside post position.
#14 Above All Names – She has failed to break her maiden in three starts and has only hit the board in one of those races. If you couple that along with this outside post-position draw, then you can clearly see that she is up against it here, no matter how you look at it.
Also Eligible: #15 Souciologist – She will need someone to scratch out of this race to draw into the field. This filly has made just one career start, which was a second-place effort in a maiden special weight here over the synthetic surface. Here breeding suggests that she might like the turf and her speed figure from that lone start was fairly solid. If she draws in, though, she will still have her work cut out for her.
The Grade 1 Natalma Stakes will share the card on Sunday at Woodbine with the Grade 1 Summer Stakes. The Summer Stakes is a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Turf. The The North American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on Saturday, September 29, and Sunday, September 30, with a monster weekend of racing at both Santa Anita and Belmont Park. In total, there will be eight challenge races contested over the weekend:
September 29 at Belmont Park
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic – Longines Turf
The Vosburgh – TwinSpires Sprint
Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes – Classic
September 29 at Santa Anita Park
American Pharoah Stakes – Sentient Jet Juvenile
Chandelier Stakes – Tito’s Handmade Vodka Juvenile Fillies
Rodeo Drive Stakes – Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf
Awesome Again Stakes – Classic
September 30 at Santa Anita Park
Zenyatta Stakes – Longines Distaff
For more coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, head over to racingdudes.com
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