Dona Bruja could be acclaimed one of the best female Argentinean imports in years if she continues her hot streak Saturday in the $600,000 Beverly D. (G1) at Arlington.
A 1 3/16-mile “Win & You’re In” prep for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), the Beverly D. has attracted an international cast of 10, and any accolades Dona Bruja would potentially earn would be well deserved.
In contrast to some of the leading Argentinean mares in history such as Bayakoa and Paseana, Dona Bruja has excelled on grass. A winner in 10 of 12 races with two seconds, she was a Group 1 winner in her native land last December. Her impact on U.S. racing was immediate as she showed powerful closing kicks to capture both the Mint Julep H. (G3) in June and last month’s Modesty H. (G3), the latter by a comfortable length over Prado’s Sweet Ride.
Installed as the 7-2 morning line favorite, Dona Bruja has German classic winner Hawksmoor as one of her targets. The Arnaud Delacour trainee missed by a head in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) and then flopped in the Mrs. Revere (G2) in her first two U.S. appearances, but has righted the ship this year with wire-to-wire scores in the Beaugay (G3) and New York (G2).
The Beaugay win by a head came at the expense of Dacita, the Chilean import who beat Tepin in her U.S. debut in the 2015 Ballston Spa (G2). Her career has been uneven since, with wins in the 2016 New York and Diana (G1) offset by puzzling tries such as a recent sixth in her New York title defense.
In addition to Dacita, trainer Chad Brown, who’s saddled the last two Beverly D. winners, will also be represented by Grand Jete and Rainha Da Bateria. Grand Jete is undefeated in three tries since her importation, including a score in the Eatontown (G3) at Monmouth Park.
While that rival will be tested for class, Rainha Da Bateria, who finished a head behind Dacita in last year’s Diana, looks to replicate her better form Woodbine form in Chicagoland. Her two most recent wins came at the Toronto course in the Canadian (G2) last fall and in the July 2 Dance Smartly (G2) in a dead heat.
The European contingent is led by the three-year-old Rain Goddess for Aidan O’Brien. Although winless since her Leopardstown debut last September, she was a distant second to Enable in the Irish Oaks (G1) last time and, before that, to Nezwaah in the Pretty Polly (G1). Only one sophomore, Euro Charline in 2014, has ever won the Beverly D. German invader Sarandia was second in the 2016 German Oaks (G1), but otherwise just has three minor stakes wins to her credit
The field is rounded out by longshots Kitten’s Roar and Zipessa. The latter was a solid third in last year’s Beverly D, but is in the midst of a six-race losing streak that commenced here last summer.