The $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf featured 11 older fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on the turf. Stacelita was sent off as the 9-5 favorite off her wins in the Beverly D (G1) at Arlington and the Flower Bowl (G1) at Belmont Park. In to challenge her included 5-2 second choice Nahrain, undefeated in 4 starts including the Prix de l'Opera (G1) last out at Longchamp, and 5-1 third choice Misty for Me, third in the Matron (G1) at Leopardstown after winning the Pretty Polly (G1) at the Curragh.
Perfect Shirl rallies down the middle
Jockey Joel Rosario sent 9-1 Dubawi Heights to the lead soon after the start and she set fractions of 25.44, 51.07, and 1:16.90 over the good turf course while stalked by 56-1 Dynaslew and favorite Stacelita. On the far turn for the last time, Dynaslew poked her head in front through 1 mile in 1:41.72, but tired badly at the 3/16, as Nahrain, 5th early, moved up to take the lead through 10f in 2:06.44. 28-1 Perfect Shirl, 8th early, closed with a rush to pass Nahrain inside the 1/16 pole to win by 3/4 length in 2:18.62. It was a nose back to late-running Misty for Me third, while favorite Stacelita tired late to finish 10th.
Perfect Shirl wins the Filly and Mare Turf
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show
8 Perfect Shirl Velazquez 57.60 18.60 11.60
5 Nahrain Dettori 5.00 3.80
12 Misty for Me Moore 5.20
Winning Time: 2:18.62
$2 Exacta 8-5 324.00
$2 Trifecta 8-5-12 3,002.40
$2 Superfecta 8-5-12-10 43,429.00
Left: Perfect Shirl gets a kiss from owner Charles Fipke in the winner's circle as trainer Roger Attfield watches at her hip. Fipke said, "I have to say that she's from very good stock. She's from Perfect Soul, who is by Sadler's Wells, a Secretariat mare. And she's by Lady Cheryl who is not only a Group 1 winner, she had been a Group 1 producer of a previous Breeders' Cup winner, and now it's her second Breeders' Cup winner that she's produced. The horse really did it, but also the jockey. I mean, he's just wonderful, and Roger is wonderful. It's a whole team effort."
Right: The trophy presentation with Bo Derek between Attfield and Fipke. Attfield said, "The E.P. Taylor was much softer than this turf is, but I was still worried about the going. You know, when she's running on good to yielding turf before, she's never really traveled very well. I knew she was sitting on a big race. On firm turf, I knew she was going to give me that. As soon as I saw her come down the lane the first time there, she was traveling so well. I thought, oh, my God, now we've got a chance to show what we've got. It all turned out well."
Left: Perfect Shirl gets her tattoo checked in the paddock. Owner Charles Fipke said, "The horse really did it, but also the jockey. I mean, he's just wonderful, and Roger is wonderful. It's a whole team effort. It's not anybody. You know, when it comes down to it, it's the heart of the horse, and that horse really has a lot of heart. That's all I can really say. It's just wonderful to be associated with such a beautiful horse and such beautiful people. Thank you."
Right: Perfect Shirl in the post parade. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "She was aggressive early, but when we went by the wire the first time she settled right down. From there on out I had a perfect trip. Roger didn't give me any instructions. He said he just wanted me to save something for the finish. It worked out just like we'd hoped."
Left: Perfect Shirl heads to the winner's circle.
Right: Perfect Shirl heads back to the barn. Trainer Roger Attfield said, "You know, when she's running on good toyielding turf before, she has never really traveled very well. So I was concerned because I wanted her to run her best race. I knew she was sitting on a big race. On firm turf, I knew she was going to give me that.
I was very worried about the turf course. As soon as I saw her come down the lane the first time there, she was traveling so well. I thought, oh, my God, now we've got a chance to show what we've got. It all turned out well."
Second place finisher Nahrain in the post parade. Jockey Frankie Dettori said, "There’s nothing more I can say. She ran an absolutely fantastic race. Last night, when I dreamt about it, I won. I had the perfect trip. She was covered up, got clear at the quarter pole and kicked on. I have no complaints."
Right: Third place finisher Misty for Me in the post parade. Trainer Aidan O'Brien said, "She ran very well. She ran a very good race. She just stumbled coming out of the stall. She hates being in behind (horses.)"
Tenth place finisher and beaten favorite Stacelita in the post parade. Jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "Around the 3/8-pole I was very happy because she was still taking it in. I was inside, then angled towards the outside, looking for room, but (when I found room) there was nothing there. The fractions were slow and everybody was under a hold. I was happy with the way she was handling herself. Turning for home she just didn't have the response I was looking for. She just didn't find her best stride today. I can't say it was the course."
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Free Prep Replays - for major prep races in the Breeders' Cup Challenge. The ones with camera logos have video available.