New Money Honey faces worthy European challenge

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Alastair Bull

October 11th, 2017

Punters will need to assess the form of the European 3-year-old fillies against that of North America when handicapping the 1 1/8-mile Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland Oct. 14.

The American division, headed by New Money Honey, face two European-trained runners – one of which has strong form against the best on that continent.

Wuheida, from the stable of Charlie Appleby, hasn’t won since the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) last year. But in four group one races she’s finished second in the Falmouth Stakes, third in the German Oaks, fourth in the Matron Stakes, and fourth in the Prix l’Opera.

The horses Wuheida’s been running against – including the Aidan O’Brien quartet of Roly Poly, Hydrangea, Winter, and Rhododendron – have been among the best fillies in Europe between a mile and 1 ¼ miles.

Normally that’s good enough form to be a big chance here. However, there will be a question of whether she’s recovered from the Prix l’Opera, which was just two weeks ago.

A second European, German 1,000 Guineas (G2) winner Unforgetable Filly, will also run, though she looks a definite second best of the pair.

However, it would also pay not to underestimate the locals, in particular New Money Honey. When she won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) last year, Roly Poly and Hydrangea were both notable failures.

That pair may have been below their best that day, but New Money Honey has done nothing but thrive. After finishing sixth on her seasonal debut in the Appalachian Stakes (G3) – with fellow QE II Cup runners La Coronel, Proctor’s Ledge, and Dream Dancing ahead of her – she won the Wonder Again Stakes (G3) and the Belmont Oaks (G1).

She then finished fifth on dirt in the Alabama Stakes (G1), and she should enjoy the return to turf.

Dream Dancing subsequently won the Del Mar Oaks (G1) in a tight finish from Beau Recall, Madam Dancealot, and Con Te Partiro – all of whom start in the QE II Cup.

La Coronel’s form has dropped a little since winning the Appalachian and the Edgewood (G3), but Proctor’s Ledge is improving, having won the Lake Placid Stakes (G2) from Uni, who subsequently beat La Coronel in the Sands Point Stakes (G2).

Completing the field is Daddys Lil Darling, who’s had an eventful season mixing turf and dirt. She finished second to Abel Tasman in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) before heading to Epsom for the Oaks, but she didn’t start after bolting in reaction to a nearby lightning strike on the way to the start. She easily won the Dueling Grounds Oaks at Kentucky Downs last month.

Wuheida’s European form makes her a strong contender, but New Money Honey may well have the edge. Proctor’s Ledge and Uni look like strong contenders for multiples.