It’s already been a huge year for the three-year-old fillies, and it could get a whole lot bigger in the next ten days. Saturday’s Grade 1 Alabama is one of the most important races within the division, and while the leader of the pack, Monomoy Girl, eyes the riches of the Cotillion at Parx, and the Canadian heroine, Wonder Gadot, gussies up for her date with the boys in the Travers, the ten furlong fixture at Saratoga has still managed to attract a strong field. The winner of four graded stakes in 2018, including easy wins in the Mother Goose and Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, Midnight Bisou has earned her place as the Alabama favorite, but my money will be on another. Let’s talk Veuve.
Having raced just once at two, Talk Veuve to Me announced herself loud and clear in early spring. The racy daughter of Violence made a splash in New Orleans, running away from maiden competition by more than 11 lengths in her 3yo debut. Impressed with the effort, partnership powerhouse, Team Valor International, bought into the Rodolphe Brisset-trained filly, and it’s been onward and upward ever since.
Now five starts into her career, Talk Veuve to Me has finished first or second in all of her races. Since her big maiden win, it’s been nothing but graded stakes for the bay filly, beginning with the big stage of Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs. Still, she is in search of a break-out victory.
That afternoon in Louisville she ran into a much more experienced filly in Mia Mischief in the Grade 2 Eight Belles. Turning in a strong effort while going seven furlongs, Talk Veuve to Me chased the winner, who has proven to be one of the fleetest fillies in the land, and finished a clear second. Off that solid performance against a piranha, Brisset pointed her straight for the shark tank.
Taking on Monomoy Girl is always a difficult assignment, but doing it with such little seasoning is doubly tough. And early in the stretch of the Grade 1 Acorn, it appeared as if the division leader might win by a pole, but Talk Veuve to Me, demonstrating both class and grit, hung in there all the way to the wire. She never had a chance to win, mind you, but she was clearly the only filly in the field who made Monomoy Girl work to the wire. She had now faced the best, but had yet to try two-turns.
Eager to see what she could do around the second turn, Brisset found a good spot in the Indiana Oaks on July 14. The 8 1/2 furlong affair at Indiana Grand had no superstars going in, but may have found one during the race. Talk Veuve to Me was in control from the outset, and dominated the stretch run while under a hand ride.
After the easy victory, she returned to the winner’s circle looking ready for more. She will find that “more” in the prestigious Alabama.
More in both distance and the competition. It’s a test her former rider, turned trainer believes that she is ready for. “Luckily for me, I’ve been able to ride her for the last six months; I breeze her all the time and I know the filly pretty well. She could actually be a better filly going around two turns,” said Brisett.
She’ll need to be to handle the likes of Midnight Bisou going a mile and a quarter, but I believe she is primed to upset the favorite. While the Asmussen-trained filly comes off a tough loss behind Monomoy Girl in the Coaching Club American Oaks, Talk Veuve to Me should be full of confidence after her trip to Indiana. Back in Saratoga, she has been working great. She also has the tactical advantage over Midnight Bisou. While the favorite needs to pass horses, Talk Veuve has the speed to control the race from the gate.
Not a two-horse race, others expected for the Alabama include: Coach Rocks, winner of the Gulfstream Pak Oaks; Grade 1 Ashland runner-up Eskimo Kisses; She’s a Julie, winner of the Iowa Oaks; the lightly raced Auspicious Babe; and the Indiana Oaks runner-up, Figarella’s Queen.
All in all, a solid field, but don’t be surprised if we are all talking Veuve after this one.
Photo of Talk Veuve to Me by Brian Zipse