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Nov 05, 2010

Ladies' Classic to decide three-year-old filly division

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Friday's opening day of the Breeders' Cup World Championships will conclude with the running of the $2 million Ladies' Classic for fillies and mares. The 1 1/8-mile race has drawn a field of 11 females, including the two best three-year-old fillies in training.

Meeting for a fourth straight time will be Blind Luck and Havre de Grace. The two three-year-olds have been banging against each other since hooking up in July's Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park.

Not only are they again in the same race the two fillies will be right next to each other in the starting gate. Blind Luck, the 9-5 favorite, drew post 10 and 4-1 third choice Havre de Grace is on her outside.

"I didn't want to be down on the inside and get trapped," noted Blind Luck's trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. "The two who have been battling (Havre de Grace in post 11 and Blind Luck in 10) drew the outside and Todd (Pletcher with Life At Ten) will be down on the inside, so it will be interesting."

"The number 11 is a disappointment," said Havre de Grace's trainer Tony Dutrow. "I'd rather it had not been the 11. Blind Luck is right next to us so we'll have to run Blind Luck's race. We have to take hold and be a length or two in front and finish up strong."

Havre de Grace is a speed horse who likes to be on or near the lead. Blind Luck comes from off the pace and runs down the competition.

The two fillies are both coming out of the Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing in which Havre de Grace held off the late running Blind Luck to win by a neck.

Blind Luck, who is co-owned by Hollendorfer, had beaten her rival in the two previous meetings. In the Delaware Oaks, Blind Luck prevailed over Havre de Grace in a stretch long duel to win by a nose. In August Blind Luck again caught Havre de Grace to win the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga by a neck.

"We used her race in Philly (Cotillion) as a prep and we have no excuses," Hollendorfer said. "It was longer between races than she's used to, and she carried more weight (124 pounds), but we got done what we had to do."

Neither filly has been out of the money this year with Blind Luck winning five of eight starts with two seconds and a third. Havre de Grace, owned by Rick Porter, has two wins in five starts and three seconds.

While Blind Luck began her season in February at Santa Anita Park, Havre de Grace made her first 2010 start in May. Blind Luck, who will be ridden by Joel Rosario, has 14 career starts with nine victories and just over $2 million in earnings. She was third in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies to She Be Wild.

"She doesn't have much pace to run at," Hollendorfer commented, "but then in all of her races this year she hasn't had a pace to run at."

Havre de Grace has earned $675,175 with three wins in seven career starts. Her regular jockey Jeremy Rose will be in the saddle on Friday. Rose was the rider of 2005 champion three-year-old colt Afleet Alex.

Life At Ten is the 7-2 second pick in the program and will start from the inside post with John Velazquez. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the five-year-old chestnut mare has earned $999,000 this year with five wins in six starts.

"This has been her best year," Pletcher said. "I feel like she's training as well now or better than she has at any point in her career.

"I think a mile-and-an-eighth is the perfect distance for her based on the way she ran in the Beldame last time. She kind of stalked the pace and then made her move. She's coming into this race the right way."

In the Beldame Stakes, Life At Ten finished two-lengths ahead of Unrivaled Belle, the same result as in the Ogden Phipps in June.

Unrivaled Belle, 8-1 in the morning-line, has been second in her last three starts after beating Rachel Alexandra at Churchill Downs in the La Troienne in April.

"It's a well-balanced field," noted the four-year-old's trainer Bill Mott. "I think the three-year-old filly Blind Luck will be tough. She's very good. Life At Ten is tough. It's a good solid field. I don't think the field is loaded with speed."

Unrivaled Belle will break from post eight with Kent Desormeaux riding. This year she has earned more than $500,000 with two wins in six starts. She and Havre de Grace should both be on the lead

Also 8-1 is Malibu Prayer who beat Unrivaled Belle in this year's Ruffian at Saratoga. The four-year-old has Garrett Gomez riding from post three for Pletcher and owner Edward Evans.

"She's doing well," said Pletcher. "She's only had one bad outing this year, and that was in a sprint (Vagrancy at Belmont Park in May). That was probably not such a good idea, but it was her first start since November and we didn't want to ask too much of her."

A horse to consider in the Ladies' Classic is Milwaukee Appeal. The four-year- old likes to stalk the pace and is a serious threat. She is 30-1 in the program and will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano from post four.

"She has run often on dirt and has done well," trainer Scott Fairlie said about the Ontario-bred filly who was second in the 2009 Alabama Stakes. "I think this surface is a little tighter and I believe she'll like that even more."

Trainer Shug McGaughey sends out Persistently in the race with Alan Garcia riding from post six. The chestnut four-year-old is 12-1, but beat Rachel Alexandra this year in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga.

From these above mentioned horses will come the winner of the Ladies' Classic.

The early favorite Blind Luck should have the race set up for her to give the three-year-old the victory and divisional honors.

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