Magic Attitude made a favorable impression in her U.S. debut three weeks ago in the Belmont Oaks (G1) and goes for a second Grade 1 score in succession in Saturday’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland.
A Group 3 winner in France and beaten only three lengths in a strong renewal of the Prix de Diane (G1), or French Oaks, Magic Attitude was favored at just above even-money in the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Oaks. Showing an effective stretch kick, Magic Attitude passed all four rivals en route to a 2 1/4-length victory.
“It was a good effort from her and I think she appreciated the firm ground,” said trainer Arnaud Delacour, whose charge faces the strong possibility of softer ground on Saturday based on the weather forecast.
“Will she bounce back well? So far, she has been showing all the right things, and she had a nice maintenance move the other day (a half-mile in :51 on the dirt at Fair Hill).”
Antoinette, who set the pace and held second in the Belmont Oaks after winning the Saratoga Oaks in her previous start, renews rivalry with Magic Attitude here.
Sweet Melania, who romped in the Jessamine (G2) over the Keeneland turf last season but was surprisingly beaten in the Lake George (G3) last time, figures to show speed. However, the Dueling Grounds Oaks one-two of Micheline and Harvey’s Lil Goil will be among several doing there best from off the pace.
Adding to the depth of the field are the Del Mar Oaks (G1) one-two Red Lark and California Kook, and the pair of Hendy Woods and Lucky Betty, who placed behind Sharing in the Edgewood (G2) last month at Churchill Downs.
Normally the closing-day fixture of the Keeneland fall meet, the $200,000 Fayette Stakes (G2) has been brought forward this year and may yield a starter or more in next month’s Breeders’ Cup.
Mr Freeze, second best to Tom’s d’Etat in the 2019 Fayette over a sloppy track, might encounter similar conditions while attempting to snap a three-race losing streak. The 5-year-old most recently weakened to trail a field of six in last month’s Alysheba (G2).
Making his first start since May is Tax, winner last year of the Jim Dandy (G2) and Withers (G3), while Coastal Defense and Aurelius Maximus both enter off a sharp allowance victories at Churchill Downs.
Crafty Daddy and Captivating Moon were separated by a head in the off-the-turf Opening Verse S. last month, while Argentinean star Mirinaque makes his second start in the U.S. following a distant fifth-place finish in the Pacific Classic (G1).