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Ladies Only: 2012 Road to the Breeders' Cup, Grade I Female Horse Races; Fan's View

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Horse racing fans that pay attention to the mares and fillies more than the male Thoroughbreds have historic favorites like Ruffian and Zenyatta. However, who are the up and coming female horses that will challenge these legends? Although many horse races include male and female, some only represent the separated genders. It is in the mares and fillies races that we can see who the rising alpha female among them is.

In 2012, ladies-only Grade I horse races have shown that there is a female on the 'ones to watch' list. In addition, there are more races over the course of the year that will show if Ruffian and Zenyatta have any record-holding rivals.

Triple Tiara closed; 2012 Breeders' Cup auto entries open

Since 2010, the Triple Crown for 3-year-old fillies has been called the New York Triple Tiara. At one time, it was known as the Filly Triple Crown. This series of wins was accomplished by Ruffian in 1975 (among others). Today, the races associated with the Triple Tiara are the Acorn Stakes, the Coaching Club American Oaks, and the Alabama Stakes (at Saratoga).

Currently, no female horse has swept the Triple Tiara in the new racing configuration. Since this trio of races is biased toward New York, horse racing fans have been advocating for the Triple Tiara to feature the Kentucky Oaks, Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, and the Acorn Stakes. While these races mimic the Triple Crown, Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is actually a Grade II (and not Grade I) race.

With either configuration of the Triple Tiara or Filly Triple Crown, those races are finished for this year. Regardless, several races will help to predict which horses will end up in the 2012 Breeders' Cup in November.

According to a list at BreedersCup.com, the following are the female-only races where winners gain automatic entry to the 2012 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.

July 14 - Delaware Handicap

August 4 - Clement L. Hirsch Handicap

August 26 - Personal Ensign Handicap

September 29 - Beldame Stakes Invitational

September 29 - Lady's Secret Stakes

October 7 - Juddmonte Spinster Stakes

2012 female-only Grade I horse racing winners

So far, 2012 has been full of exciting horse races that feature the best ladies of horse racing. Excluding races for horses under the age of three and ones with mixed genders, one clear winner is rising to the top. The winner of Distaff Stakes and the Vinery Madison Stakes, Groupie Doll is clearly a horse to look out for over the next year.

Below is a list compiled from Blood Horse data of 2012 Grade I races that have already passed. These races show us the potential upcoming winners of other upcoming events.

Santa Monica Handicap - Santa Anita Park, January 28, Home Sweet Aspen ($300,000)

Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap - Santa Anita Park, March 17, Include Me Out ($300,000)

Vinery Madison Stakes - Keeneland, April 12, Groupie Doll ($300,000)

Apple Blossom Handicap - Oaklawn Park, April 13, Plum Pretty ($500,000)

Kentucky Oaks - Churchill Downs, May 4, Believe You Can ($1,000,000)

Humana Distaff Stakes - Churchill Downs, May 5, Groupie Doll ($300,000)

Gamely Stakes - BetFair Hollywood Park, May 25, Belle Royale ($250,000)

Ogden Phipps Handicap - Belmont Park, May 28, It's Tricky ($400,000)

Acorn Stakes - Belmont Park, May 28, Contested ($300000)

Just A Game Stakes- Belmont Park, June 9, Tapitsfly ($500,000)

Vanity Handicap - BetFair Hollywood Park, June 16, Love Theway Youare ($250,000)

Upcoming Grade I 2012 female horse races

For female horses ages three and up, there is still a long row to hoe over the summer and through the fall. On the way to the 2012 Breeders' Cup in November, several winners from these races that will find that they are nominated. Below, a list compiled from Blood Horse shows all of the upcoming Grade I races dedicated to female horses ages three years, four years, and older.

July 7 - Princess Rooney Handicap, Calder, $350,000

August 4 - Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, Del Mar, $300,000

August 11 - Beverly D. Stakes, Arlington Park, $750,000

August 25 - Ballerina Stakes, Saratoga, $250,000

September 1 - Personal Ensign Invitational Stakes, Saratoga, $300,000

September 29 - Beldame Invitation Stakes, Belmont Park, $350,000

September 29 - Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes, Belmont Park, $500,000

September 29 - Yellow Ribbon Stakes, Santa Anita, $250,000

October 6 - First Lady Stakes, Keeneland, $350,000

October 7 - Juddmonte Spinster Stakes, Keeneland, $500,000

November 2 - Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, Santa Anita, $1,000,000

November 23 - Matriarch Stakes, Betfair Hollywood Park, $250,000

Where to watch ladies only horse races

Over the past year, the Jockey Club has stepped up their game by starting a new web site that links all of the top horse racing information for new fans. However, the new America's Best Horse Racing website does not always highlight coverage outside of the NBC or CBS Sports networks. In addition to the information found at FollowHorseRacing.com, you can also check HRTV and TVG for television horse racing schedules.

More from this Contributor:

Union Rags: Next Start, Race: Fan's View

TV Guide: 2012 Olympics Equestrian Events Schedule

Summer 2012 TV Guide: June's Top Horse Races

Summer 2012: Unique Horse Racing Camps for Kids

Union Rags: Five Weird Facts About 2012 Belmont Stakes Winner

Maryam Louise is a longtime resident of the Bluegrass State and has lived in the shadows of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky over the past two decades. In addition to being a fan of horse racing, she has also had a chance to get to know jockeys, horse groomers, and betting clerks as an ESL instructor. Currently, she writes for KentuckyDerby.org and relies on her friends in the multiple facets of the equine industry for writing inspiration.

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