The winner of the Grade III Columbia Stakes at Pimlico Race Course today may come close to breaking the race's six-furlong record of 1 minute, 10 seconds.
Maryland's speediest 3-year-old filly, White Cliffs, is expected to hook up immediately with Canadian invader Scotzanna, who has been beaten only once in seven career starts and is expected to be the overwhelming favorite. She beat males in her last start at Woodbine Race Course in 1:09 2/5 seconds.
A convincing win could propel Scotzanna into the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint next month at Belmont Park, where the chestnut filly won the Grade II Prioress Stakes three months ago.
Robin Platts comes in from Canada to ride Scotzanna.
Even if White Cliffs pulls an upset, the Breeders' Cup is not in her plans. The Columbia is the final race for the filly, who has won her last two starts while carrying a foal.
"The fetus is about the size of a grapefruit," said the horse's trainer, Carlos Garcia. "She's carrying a little extra weight, but not much. She worked [five furlongs] for this race in 59 3/5 seconds and really that was just cantering. The Canadian filly looks like she's quick, but our horse is fast, too."
Garcia added that "we're going to run our own race," which means jockey Omar Klinger is not going to take back on White Cliffs, but let her make her customary move to the front.
Should either of the favorites misstep, other fillies such as Word O' Ransom and Broad Smile could figure in the outcome.
Word O' Ransom drew an inside post and her trainer, Mary Eppler, thinks she is capable of outrunning White Cliffs for the lead.
If a speed duel develops and the pacesetters tire, Broad Smile, like many of her stablemates in the Bob Meyerhoff barn, is a fast finisher and her strong stretch run may prove effective.
Past winners of the Columbia include such fillies as Safely Kept, Missy's Mirage, Meafara and Twist Afleet. The stakes mark of 1:10 is held by Miss Indy Anna, who won in 1993.