5 Formidable Females Tackling the Breeders’ Cup

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman

It's a given that fillies and mares will win at least five of the 14 races at the 2022 Breeders' Cup. After all, five of the races are restricted to fillies and mares.

But it's not uncommon to see fillies and mares conquer males in the open Breeders' Cup races. History is filled with famous names like Zenyatta, a stretch-running winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1); Goldikova, a three-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1); Enable, the acclaimed heroine of the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1)....

The list of fillies and mares slated to take on males at the 2022 Breeders' Cup is impressive. In fact, it's not a stretch to think female winners will outnumber male winners across the 14 races.

Let's highlight five of the most formidable fillies and mares set to tackle males at Keeneland this fall:

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1): The Platinum Queen and Love Reigns

A horse based in Europe has yet to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, but none as accomplished as The Platinum Queen have ever made the trip. Not only is The Platinum Queen a proven Group 1 winner, she secured her signature victory while facing older rivals!

The Platinum Queen has already run seven times this year, along the way recording four victories. Her first foray against older horses came in the five-furlong Nunthorpe S. (G1) at York, where she finished second by 2 1/2 lengths against Europe's accomplished sprinter Highfield Princess (see below). But The Platinum Queen elevated her game to a new level in the five-furlong Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp (G1) at ParisLongchamp, fending off her elders to win by a short neck.

The Abbaye took place over very soft ground, but The Platinum Queen is versatile and handled good-to-firm turf just fine in the Nunthorpe. She has lots of early speed and figures to find the competition at least a little easier at Keeneland, so don't be surprised if The Plantinum Queen takes top honors while squaring off against fellow two-year-olds in the Juvenile Turf Sprint.

The Platinum Queen's most formidable U.S. rival is another filly: Love Reigns. The two young sprinters have actually met once before, when Love Reigns finished fourth and The Platinum Queen 13th in the Queen Mary S. (G2) at Royal Ascot.

Both fillies have obviously improved since then. Love Reigns returned to the U.S. with a strong 2 1/2-length victory in the Bolton Landing S. at Saratoga, in which she ran the final three-sixteenths of a mile in a rapid :17.16. Trained by Wesley Ward (who has won the last three editions of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint), Love Reigns skipped the recent Indian Summer S. to save her A-game for the Breeders' Cup and figures to fire a big shot at Keeneland.

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1): Highfield Princess

It often seems as though European turf sprinters take turns beating each other without establishing a clear-cut hierarchy among themselves, but Highfield Princess has done quite the opposite, rattling off three consecutive Group 1 triumphs in three different countries in the span of a month.

Highfield Princess kicked things off with an upset victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) at Deauville in France, and subsequently cutting back to five furlongs has done nothing to dampen her success. She beat The Platinum Queen by 2 1/2 lengths in the Nunthorpe S. (G1) at York in England, then traveled to Ireland for the Flying Five S. (G1) at the Curragh and promptly dominated by 3 1/4 lengths.

The Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint hasn't been especially kind toward European raiders; the home team has won 13 out of 14 editions, with only Glass Slippers in 2020 taking top honors from outside the United States. But the red-hot form of Highfield Princess is appealing, and she may be able to give reigning Turf Sprint winner Golden Pal a real tussle for supremacy.

Breeders' Cup Mile (G1): Regal Glory

After a couple of defeats when favored at short prices, it's easy to forget the brilliant win streak Regal Glory compiled between November 2021 and June 2022, when she rattled off consecutive victories in the Matriarch S. (G1), Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational S. (G3), Jenny Wiley S. (G1), and Just a Game S. (G1).

But forgetting those triumphs could be a mistake, because on her best day, Regal Glory is a top-notch turf miler. Remember her 3 1/2-length score in the Just a Game, when she beat future two-time Grade 1 winner In Italian and next-out Dance Smartly S. (G2) winner Wakanaka in the fast time of 1:32.00?

Regal Glory ran deceptively well in Keeneland's one-mile First Lady S. (G1) earlier this month. Reserved in fourth place as eventual winner In Italian carved out modest fractions of :23.37, :47.00, and 1:10.45, Regal Glory gamely accelerated her final two furlongs in about :11.25 and :11.27 to finish one length away from victory.

The slow early/fast late race shape of the First Lady didn't favor Regal Glory, so the fact she charged hard to miss by only a length is a testament to her talent. Trainer Chad Brown saddled the mare Uni to win the 2019 Breeders' Cup Mile, and fillies and mares have won five of the last 14 editions of the race, so Regal Glory is eligible to outrun expectations if she receives a better pace setup next month.

Breeders' Cup Turf (G1): War Like Goddess

European raiders tend to have an advantage in the Breeders' Cup Turf, but once in a while the home team snatches first prize, and the best bet for an American-based winner of the 2022 Turf might be War Like Goddess.

A remarkably consistent five-year-old mare with seven graded stakes wins under her belt, War Like Goddess defeated males without difficulty in the 1 1/2-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) at Belmont at the Big A earlier this month. Her performance that day was impressive: catching a decent pace for the first time this season, War Like Goddess showed more tactical speed than usual tracking the early tempo from third place before accelerating her final quarter-mile in about :23.64 to romp home on top by 2 3/4 lengths.

War Like Goddess beat an accomplished field of graded stakes winners in the Joe Hirsch, including Grade 1 heroes Rockemperor, Adhamo, and Gufo. She never fails to unleash a powerful homestretch kick, but the improved tactical speed she displayed in the Joe Hirsch figures to come in handy at the Breeders' Cup, giving her options for working out a favorable trip regardless of pace scenario.

Now it's your turn! Which fillies and mares do you plan on betting at the Breeders' Cup?


Want to test your handicapping skills against fellow Unlocking Winners readers? Check out the Unlocking Winners contests page—there's a new challenge every week! (Please note: older contest entries can be found here.)

J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, videographer, voice actor, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite.

Recent Posts

More Blogs