LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In a Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs that is shaping up light on grass runners from California, as well as among 3-year-olds, Paved could represent an exception on both fronts in the Nov. 3 BC Filly and Mare Turf.
A two-time stakes winner among her 3-year-old age group in 2018 and most recently a rallying second against older females in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive on Sept. 29 at Santa Anita, she may prove to be California’s only hope in the Filly and Mare Turf. Only one other filly from the state had been under consideration for the race, that being Rodeo Drive winner Vasilika, but she was withdrawn from Breeders’ Cup consideration last week in favor of races at Santa Anita this fall.
In falling a half-length short of catching Vasilika in the Rodeo Drive going 1 1/4 miles, Paved missed out on a Win and You’re In victory that would have provided free entry and travel into the Breeders’ Cup. Yet in defeat, coming over the longest race of her career, she gave her connections the confidence to test even deeper waters.
“We realize this is an ambitious target to head to the Breeders’ Cup, but we like the mile-and-three-eighths distance at Churchill Downs, something that should suit her very well,” said Aron Wellman, president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, which owns Paved with Ciaglia Racing.
A daughter of Quality Road, Paved is the lone 3-year-old filly expected among U.S.-based starters, a limited group likely to be outnumbered by Europeans. Three weeks before the Breeders’ Cup, the only other U.S.-trained fillies and mares fully committed to the race were Beverly D. winner Sistercharlie, Flower Bowl winner Fourstar Crook, and Bewitch winner Mom’s On Strike. A few others are outside chances to be pre-entered by Monday’s deadline.
While acknowledging the talent of Sistercharlie and Fourstar Crook, along with a skilled European cast, Wellman believes the time is right for Paved to try such company.
“When you put up $2 million” – the purse of the Filly and Mare Turf – “with a filly headed in the right direction, and is a proven Grade 1 filly, these are the types of calculated gambles worth taking,” he said.
Joel Rosario, aboard for her second in the Rodeo Drive, has the mount, Wellman said.
Paved is one of five Eclipse-owned horses aimed toward the Breeders’ Cup. Others include Current, one of the favorites for the Juvenile Turf and a horse likely to be cross-entered in the Juvenile, a less likely spot; Vibrance, runner-up in the Chandelier, who goes in the Juvenile Fillies; and Pakhet and Pivottina, two entrants for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Although the final North American preps for the Filly and Mare Turf have concluded, there is a chance that horses exiting Ascot races on Saturday on British Champions Day could return in the Breeders’ Cup. In 2016, Queen’s Trust wheeled back from a third in the British Champions Filly and Mare Stakes to take the Filly and Mare Turf.