Here we take a look at some of the leading horses in the female handicap division and who are some of the possibilities for the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic this November at Churchill Downs.
At the top of the list of this year’s older females, we have Havre de Grace, who has won three straight, and right behind her Blind Luck, who has won her last two.
Havre de Grace and Blind Luck have met five times in the last year, and will renew their rivalry in the 1 1/4 miles in the 74th running of the Delaware Handicap on Saturday. This race is a “Win and You’re In” race, which means the winner gets an automatic spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs. Blind Luck got the better of Havre de Grace last year by a nose and a neck for wins in the Delaware Oaks and Grade 1 Alabama, respectively. Havre de Grace then turned the tables on her rival with a neck win of her own that one. Blind Luck finished second and Havre de Grace second and third in last year’s Ladies’ Classic, both losing out to Unrivaled Belle. Their most recent meeting was in the Grade 3 Azeri at Oaklawn back in March, where Havre de Grace defeated her nemesis by 3 ¼ lengths. Based on this latest meeting, you would have to give the upper hand to Havre de Grace as the leader in the older filly and mare division. Since their meeting, both have raced twice, though not against each other, and both have racked up two wins. Both mares are remarkable in that neither has ever finished out of the money in their careers.
If only as compelling a rivalry as this could develop in the older male handicap division, preferably among horses that had faced each other during the Triple Crown, horse racing could get the boost it so badly needs.
A horse that has been making a name for her this year is Awesome Maria. This attractive gray mare got her first Grade 1 by taking the Ogden Phipps on June 18, 2011, winning by 3 convincing lengths in good time. She continues to climb up the ladder of the older filly and mare division as the Ogden Phipps was her fourth straight win and is undefeated this year. She did lose to Havre de Grace and Blind Luck by 10 lengths in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes, but that was ages ago back in October and she is a much improved filly since then.