Rainha Da Bateria takes the field home in the Jessamine. Photo courtesy of Keeneland.

Rainha Da Bateria takes the field home in the Jessamine. Photo courtesy of Keeneland.

by Doug McCoy

Rainha Da Bateria is Portugese for “Queen of the Drums.”  On Friday the filly named Rainha Da Bateria will attempt to become the queen of the two-year-old filly turf division with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at a mile over the Santa Anita turf course.

H. Graham Motion has two Breeders’ Cup wins to his credit, with Better Talk Now  (2004)  and Shared Account (2010), and has three horses in Breeders’ Cup races this weekend. While most of the attention has centered around Main Sequence, the three-time Grade 1 winner who is expected to be one of the choices in the B.C. Turf, Motion feels it would be unwise to overlook Rainha Da Bateria, whom he trains at his Fair Hill base, in a race he admits is very competitive.

rootinginterests“This is the Breeders’ Cup; there are no easy spots,” the 50-year-old native of Cambridge, England said candidly.  “And these races with the two-year-olds are so hard to gauge because most of those in the field are still learning and developing. But having said that, I think our filly is a talented sort who had a legitimate excuse when she didn’t run up to expectations.”

The race Motion alluded to was the $100,000 P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga. After closing stoutly to take her debut sprinting on the grass earlier in the Spa meeting, Rainha Da Bateria was well backed in the 1 1/16 mile Johnson but wound up fourth after being well wide into the first turn. In addition to her early traffic problems the $435,000 purchase and half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up He’s Had Enough didn’t seem to be comfortable during much of the race.

Turns out there was a good reason for her sub-par performance. “We discovered after the race she had an entrapped epiglottis,” Motion said, an issue more commonly known in the business as a “flapper” problem. “We addressed the issue, gave her six weeks off then ran her in the Grade III Jessamine at Keeneland with Lasix for the first time, and she turned in a very strong effort.”

Strong, indeed. Lagging in last place in the eight horse field to the stretch, Rainha Da Bateria was swung six wide by Joel Rosario and blew past her field from the outside.  She was pulling away with verve at the wire to win by a decisive length and a half in her first graded stakes try.

That gave the daughter of Broken Vow, out of the stakes-winning Dixieland Band mare Amelia, two wins from three starts, with earnings of $144,800, for owner Three Chimneys Farm and breeder Alexander Groves Matz, LLC.

Still, no one knows better than Motion that if it’s the Breeders’ Cup and the race is on the turf, any European entrant has to be considered.

“It would be hard to leave any of the foreign runners out,” Motion, who still has strong ties with horsemen across the pond, pointed out. “The foreign contingent has gotten tougher and tougher with every passing year and the Euros have a strong record over the Santa Anita grass course. I think Richard Hannon’s filly (Osaila) may be the toughest of the group. Her last race wasn’t graded ,but it offered a big purse ($496,300) and she finished with a flourish.  But as I said, I wouldn’t take anybody too lightly from the Euros or the U.S. runners for that matter. There are some good U.S. runners in the field as well. It will probably just boil down to a good trip and racing luck.”

Rainha Da Bateria’s detractors point to some of the slow times in the filly’s three races.  But with several speed types in the field, it seems likely the pace of Friday’s race will be lively and a good bit quicker than Motion’s filly had to deal with in the past.  That could benefit her.

“With our running style, we’ve actually been forced to close off some slow early fractions, so the faster they run early, the better chance we have to run on late,” Motion said.

Doug McCoy has been a racing writer and chartcaller since 1972. He retired in late 2013 after 23 years with Equibase and continues to write for the Daily Racing Form and The Racing Biz.