ARCADIA, Calif. — Queen’s Trust had only one victory in seven starts and on paper seemed a bit out of place in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
But trainer Michael Stoute knew his horse had legitimate excuses when placing in three Group 1 stakes in Europe, and he very much wanted to run in the Filly and Mare Turf. He just needed to convince owners Patricia and David Thompson that a transatlantic trip was the proper thing to do.
The Thompsons, who race and breed under the moniker Cheveley Park Stud, gave Stoute the green light, and Queen’s Trust, under Frankie Dettori, backed up her trainer’s confidence with a thrilling late run to nose out the favored Lady Eli in the $2 million Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Saturday.
Lady Eli, trying to cap a storybook year as she overcame laminitis to make it back to Grade 1 form, finished second by a length over Avenge, the pacesetter. Avenge was followed by Seventh Heaven, Zipessa, Ryans Charm, Sea Calisi, Catch a Glimpse, Al’s Gal, Sentiero Italia, Nuovo Record, Kitcat, and Pretty Perfect.
The win was the third in this race for Stoute, who captured the Filly and Mare Turf with Dank (2013) and Islington (2003).
This was just the second win in eight career starts for Queen’s Trust, a 3-year-old daughter of Dansili. Stoute said she had trouble in her last three starts, including a runner-up finish to Minding in the Group 1 Nassau at Goodwood in July and in the British Champions at Ascot in October, where she finished third.
“Her form was solid, she had a lot of bad luck in running this year,” Stoute said. “She’s been a model of consistency; things just haven’t gone right for her on a couple of occasions.”
Stoute said he had to convince the Thompsons to run in the Breeders’ Cup. In 2005, they owned Funfair, who broke down in the BC Mile at Belmont Park and had to be euthanized.
“They had a misfortune in the Breeders’ Cup a few years ago, and they were never keen to come back,” said Stoute, who did not train Funfair. “I’m delighted they did.”
Stoute wanted to come because he knew Queen’s Trust would appreciate firm ground and a fast pace. Avenge, under Flavien Prat, sped off to the lead and set fractions of 23.10 seconds, 46.16, and 1:10.11 for six furlongs while being prompted by Catch a Glimpse.
Lady Eli, under Irad Ortiz Jr., was along the rail down the backside, got off the fence, split horses, and then got to the outside approaching the top of the stretch. Lady Eli set sail after Avenge and collared her inside the sixteenth pole, but Queen’s Trust, who emerged from behind horses at the three-sixteenths pole, ran down Lady Eli at the wire.
Queen’s Trust covered the 1-1/4 miles in 1:57.75 and returned $18 to win.
“I wanted to get to her wheels; I didn’t get to her wheels until midturn,” Dettori said, referring to Lady Eli. “Once I got to her wheels, I knew I could get there.”
For Lady Eli, it was just her second loss in nine career starts. She had missed more than a year after developing laminitis in the summer of 2015. This year, she suffered her first defeat in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga before winning the Grade 1 Flower Bowl at Belmont.
Trainer Chad Brown credited Ortiz with getting Lady Eli out of a sticky spot early in the race, but he was naturally disappointed with the narrow loss.
“I’m disappointed with the result, I’m not disappointed in anything else about the race,” Brown said. “I’m glad everybody got to see her run her ‘A’ race. That’s horse racing, I’ve been on both sides of those photos. This time, we were on the wrong side of it.”
Lady Eli may not be done yet. Though she is cataloged to be sold on Wednesday at Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale, her owners said this week that if she was healthy, she most likely would be withdrawn and would race again next year. Brown certainly hopes that’s the case.
“I don’t see any reason why she shouldn’t run next year,” Brown said. “She’s lightly raced, and she’s doing terrific.”