Despite market dominance, European runners have underperformed in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, notching only two winners in the eight editions of the race. That record looks even worse when you consider that the two years Euros won were the two years where Lasix was banned in the two-year-old events.
From a preps race perspective, two North American races have dominated: all seven of the North American based winners have run in the Miss Grillo stakes at Belmont Park or Woodbine’s Natalma. But that trend seems almost certain to be broken in 2017.
The other major thing to point out from a stats perspective is the dominance of Chad Brown. In 2016, Brown won his third Juvenile Fillies Turf and this time around he has strong prospects of claiming a fourth win in the contest.
Brown will saddle two runners. His best chance is Rushing Fall. This unbeaten daughter of More Than Ready looked the real deal when coming from well off the pace to land the Grade 3 Jessamine last time out. That victory came on soft ground, but a maiden win on firm turf suggest that conditions are no hindrance and she very much appeals as one with an attractive profile for the race. Her potent finishing kick will always prove an asset and it is hoped she is not compromised by her come-from-behind style and is able to show her full ability. The Jessamine has not been a productive prep for this. The six winners since it became a graded stake have fared no better than sixth but several of those had rough trips (La Coronel, Harmonize, Rainha da Bateria). It seems unlikely that the lack of success of those previous winners means anything negative when it comes to Rushing Fall’s chances.
Brown’s other runner, Significant Form, took the Miss Grillo, last time; Grillo winners have won this race four times including the last two. Significant Form has a similar profile to her stablemate. She won well last time and was much the best in her debut though was disqualified for a foul going into the first turn. She might do better with a bit of time and distance but could well hit the board.
Another to consider form the Grillo is second-place finisher Best Performance. She was caught wide around both bends and was far back off a slow pace. Two back she had a trip excuse as well at Kentucky Downs when Ultima D was a loose winner. She was behind and between and had stretch traffic.
The Natalma winner, Capla Temptress, is a European import, previously trained by Marco Botti. She showed a fair level of ability in England and was only a length behind Juliet Capulet in the Sweet Solera. She will need to improve on that form, but that's not impossible and she looked as though she had more to come when winning the Natalma, travelling up well and winning readily enough when the gap came. She is likely to be underbet and could be useful in exotics, especially for stats-minded players given that the Natalma has produced three winners of the JFT.
As is often the case, European runners stand out on form, but a repeated failure to get the job done in the past does temper enthusiasm somewhat. As a result of this, there are only two races that appeal as worthwhile trials: the Prix Marcel Boussac and the Fillies' Mile (both European winners had previously contested Group 1 races). In a regular year, Happily may have contested the former, but she was too busy beating colts in the Lagadere on the same card. She was due to run in the Fillies' Mile, which would have made this race much less of a conundrum, but was scratched due to a temperature. September proved a fine stand-in, however, and should have won comfortably but faced terrible traffic in the stretch. She showed her quality with a flying finish and exudes talent – the only possible question being whether the two-turn mile might be a little sharp for her. Still, she’s a leading contender and it's surely just a matter of time before Aidan O'Brien wins this race.
Like O'Brien, John Gosden is having a stellar season and he will send out Juliet Capulet. She improved again to land the Rockfel last time but form lines with Nyaleti give her a bit to find with the O'Brien pair.
A final European runner to mention is Madeline, third in the Cheveley Park when last seen. Roger Varian has done well at the Breeders’ Cup with limited starters (three runners and two have hit the board). Her fifth at Ascot – on USA-like ground – is better than it looks considering she was racing on the wrong side of the course. She’ll have to prove she can stay but is a little interesting as an each-way chance at a big price.
Verdict: Best Performance rates a look at 20-1