by Ed Meyer

posted on October 10, 2008 in News, Other Events | No Comments >>

Rosa Grace (GB) will look for revenge against Backseat Rhythm, when she makes her first start for trainer Christophe Clement in the 25th running of the Grade I, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Saturday in Lexington, Ky. The invitational race is for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

A daughter of German Horse of the Year Lomitas (GB), Rosa Grace won three of the first seven starts of her career in England and Ireland. In June at Newbury, she took the Ballymacoll Stud Lord Weinstock Memorial at a little over 1 ¼ miles on a course rated as good.

For trainer Rae Guest, Rosa Grace made her North American debut at Saratoga on August 15 and finished second to eventual Grade I winner Backseat Rhythm in the 1 1/8-mile Lake Placid Stakes on a yielding turf course. She then was transferred to Clement’s barn at Belmont Park.

“She’s a nice filly,” said Ben Colebrook, Clement’s assistant at Keeneland. “She’s won on good turf in England, and I think she probably likes it a little better firm.”

Rosa Grace has a tough assignment in the QEII as every starter in the field of 11 is a stakes winner. Two of those horses are coming off Grade I turf wins: Backseat Rhythm and Magical Fantasy. Third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Backseat Rhythm took the Grade I Garden City Stakes over 1 1/8 miles at Belmont on September 6. Magical Fantasy won the 1 1/8-mile Del Mar Oaks on August 16

Two stakes winners from Keeneland’s spring meeting, Ariege and Alwajeeha, return in the QEII.  Ariege, winner of the Santa Anita Oaks in March, won the Stonerside Beaumont, run at about seven furlongs on the Polytrack.  Alwajeeha took the Appalachian at one mile on turf.

Other starters include Lake George Stakes winner My Princess Jess, Closeout, coming off a win in Arlington’s Pucker Up Stakes on September 6, and Storm Mesa, whose five-race win streak included the San Clemente at Del Mar and the Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows, before she ran fifth in the Del Mar Oaks. Rounding out the field are stakes winners Lickety Lemon, My Baby Baby and Sefroua. All starters will carry 121 pounds.