We are ready for day two of Irish Champions Weekend as racing heads to the headquarters of Irish racing, The Curragh. With two Win and You’re In Races for the Breeders’ Cup headlining an ample amount of high class stakes action, it should continue to be an exciting time in racing around the world. Today’s star watch comes both from Ireland and France, where it is Arc Trial Day featuring several strong prep races for the feature day of racing in a month’s time.
Big name runners line the form guides in superstar fillies Love and Snowfall, as well as a Breeders’ Cup winner in Glass Slippers. On top of that we have two young and talented Irish runners in Point Lonsdale and Agartha looking to make it three in a row, and don’t forget the globetrotting Skalleti in the GII Prix Foy.
For some recent American form, we see the return of Belmont Derby winner Bolshoi Ballet in the GII Prix Niel at Longchamp. The form for this day spreads far and wide from America, Europe and even the Japanese invaders who have arrived in France ahead of their preparations for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. There are a lot of great days of racing throughout the season, but none that offer a better form guide for what is ahead than today.
The Curragh – Sunday
Race 1 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Bold Lad’ Sprint Handicap – 6 Furlongs, 3 & Up (8:45am ET)
20 – Lord Dudley – This Pride Of Dubai gelding raced well LTO over course and distance and has been very good so far this season. Has only found the winner’s enclosure a handful of times including a few starts back at Fairyhouse but is progressing well and will love the ground on the day. Carries the light weight with the 7 pound apprentice Adam Farragher in the saddle.
9 – Hightimeyouwon – Ran a strong race over course and distance last start in a premier handicap. Has been off just shy of two months but gets the services of Ryan Moore for this start. Looks like the shorten up in distance will continue to be a major plus and the ground should be perfect for him.
2 – Gulliver – Raced in a small field at York last time out in the Garrowby Stakes but it was a very strongly run race. I thought several horses in that field improved drastically and Gulliver was last of the four but by no means disgraced. Heads back down into handicap company and will definitely be a big fan of the ground on the day. If he can replicate the run he made in the Steward’s Cup at Goodwood two starts back, he is good enough to win this one.
Race 2 – GII Moyglare ‘Jewels’ Blandford Stakes – 1 1/4 Miles, 3 & Up F&Ms (9:20am ET)
2 – Thundering Nights – This filly was very game in France LTO and handled ground that did not suit. The conditions today at The Curragh will be much more to her liking and will help get her right back on track with the efforts she has shown all season. A winner of the GI Pretty Polly Stakes over Santa Barbara and suffered a narrow defeat to the recently retired Mean Mary in the GII New York Stakes at Belmont. Love will be a test for this one as they carry the same weight in this start but if she enjoys getting back to The Curragh as much as I think she will, she can beat her.
1 – Love – She took a shot at the races that would have made her the superstar we thought she was and did not live up to the hype. With that being said, she placed in two very influential Group One races and was beaten by some very talented runners in Adayar, Mishriff and Alenquer. She now goes back down to restricted level and takes on a pretty strong field of fillies at the mile and a quarter. She did have one start in open company in this condition at Royal Ascot recently when she won the GI Prince Of Wales’s, although the form out of that has not been okay at best. I am expecting her to bounce back because she is still a high class filly, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy.
5 – Insinuendo – Faded to a lackluster performance in the GI Prix Jean Romanet during her trip to France LTO. Now comes back to a track she is very familiar with, has a recent group stakes win and is a very big price in the market. A bit more moisture in the ground would make a difference but it is not the end all for this horse. Has two strong stakes victories this season and is great value in this field.
Race 3 – GI Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes – 5 Furlongs, 3 & Up F&Ms (9:55am ET)
8 – Glass Slippers – Winner of this race last year, Glass Slippers debuted well this prep in the GII King George Qatar Stakes. Last year this race came 3rd up and led to quite a spectacular end to the season in a strong 2nd in France and a Breeders’ Cup triumph. Kevin Ryan continues to have a fantastic season and if this filly improves in this effort, the best will be yet to come for her.
1 – Gustavus Weston – This runner has just continued to improve throughout the campaign and thrives at The Curragh. Won his 2nd rendition of the Keeneland Phoenix Sprint Stakes over this course and ran a strong 2nd in the GII Sapphire Stakes over course and distance as well. I don’t see any reason why he won’t be competitive again even against some higher quality opposition. He has been on as strong of an upward climb as any horse and expect it to continue at a nice price here.
4 – Dragon Symbol – Tough to make a case that Dragon Symbol won’t finish at least in the money given how consistent he is. He is still chasing that elusive Group One triumph but has continued to put together strong performances and has run into less than ideal circumstances in many of those races. Makes the trip over to Ireland and will stay at the 5 furlong distance which he has proven in the past he can win at.
Race 4 – GI Moyglare Stud Stakes – 7 Furlongs, 2 Year Old Fillies (10:30am ET)
8 – Sunset Shiraz – Was very impressed by how well this girl stayed on in her last start over this trip, finishing 2nd behind the race favorite Agartha in the GII Debutante Stakes. The biggest difference that I am hoping for will be for this horse to be a bit closer to the pace. Not necessarily on it but close enough to be in contention with that late kick. I don’t think it will be a problem for her to get to that spot and if she can put together a similar effort I really like her chances for a big upset.
1 – Agartha – Winner of back to back in group company in Ireland taking out the GIII Silver Flash Stakes and the GII Debutante Stakes over course and distance. This progressive daughter of Caravaggio has really shown strong improvement stepping up in class and this seems to be another good race for her to continue that. Outside of a couple of recent maiden breakers, this is a very similar field to what she saw LTO and this time it comes with a Group One prize.
3 – Concert Hall – Impressive winner over course and distance when breaking the maiden two back. Was on the pace early in the GII Debutante Stakes and really did disappoint, however she has shown the ability in the past so I would be willing to give her a pass on that effort. See if the tactics change slightly and she should be given a live chance.
Race 5 – GI Vincent O’Brien National Stakes – 7 Furlongs, 2 Year Olds Colts and Fillies (11:05am ET)
5 – Native Trail – 2 for 2 so far in the young career of this Godolphin runner. Will be a decent price due to how short in the market Point Lonsdale will be and I think if you’re going to try and take a chance in this race against the favorite, this is the one I would do it with. It could be a two horse race and possibly a one horse race if Point Lonsdale is that good, however with a bit of a firmer surface I think Native Trail is good enough to compete and potentially upset the favorite.
6 – Point Lonsdale – Is going to be very short in the market and based on how visually impressive he has been it is tough to say otherwise. He has disposed of runner-up Maritime Wings on two separate occasions and Maritime Wings disappointed at Leopardstown yesterday and Reach For The Moon, another horse he defeated with lots of talent was bested in the GII Champagne yesterday, so possibly the form around him is not as strong. If I thought he was unbeatable I would say don’t bother, but I really don’t think he is and Native Trail is progressive enough to potentially turn the tables.
3 – Ebro River – Was waiting for the big effort from this horse for several starts and finally got it with his upset win of the GI Keeneland Phoenix Stakes. With that being said, I don’t think he is worth much of a play in this spot even with that strong front running performance last time out. It is one you can keep an eye on the price and see if he drifts over 10/1 than maybe that creates some value but I do not expect him to get the same trip today.
Race 6 – GI Comer Group Int’l Irish St. Leger – 1 3/4 Miles, 3 & Up (11:40am ET)
2 – Amhran Na Bhfiann – Extremely disappointed in this horse in back to back starts after back to back distanced 8th place finishes. I’ve been very high on this horse as a potential top notch stayer since his strong run placing in the GI Epsom Derby as a 3 year old. The reason I am willing to give him one more try is because I think the conditions will suit him perfectly, back to that same course and distance win he had in the GII Curragh Cup and should get a bit less cut in the ground than he had in the St. Leger Trial. He has it in him and I think if it’s going to show this is the spot for it.
4 – Baron Samedi – Did not appreciate the shortened distance when making the trip over to France in the GI Grand Prix de Saint Cloud. Now jumps back up to the 1 3/4 Mile distance where he won the GIII Vintage Crop Stakes a few starts back before his 2 mile tilt at Belmont Park. Ground wouldn’t be a question either way, he’s a very talented horse and getting back to an ideal distance can only help.
6 – Master Of Reality – Willing to take a shot with this horse that is now staying in Europe with a trip to the Melbourne Cup off the table. After winning his usual prep run in the Her Majesty’s Plate at Down Royal, he comes back to a course and distance he likes and is around that same form that he was last prep at this time. Not saying he impressed in last year’s Melbourne Cup because he did not, but at the same time I feel like this will be a better spot for the 6 year old than heading into lockdown down under.
Avoid – 8 – Twilight Payment & 11 – Search For A Song – Both will be close to favoritism but I am not sold that they will be deserving of that. Search For A Song has won this race twice and no matter the form continues to show up on this day so that could come back to bite me later, but I just don’t see it this year with how he is going and the field around him. Twilight Payment proved me wrong in a big way in the Irish St. Leger Trial when defeating Princess Zoe but still I am not sold that he is good enough to win this, let alone be favored for it. They both have the form or history to say they are contenders, but I personally don’t think they are.
Race 7 – Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes – 6 Furlongs, 2 Year Olds (12:15am ET)
3 – Delmona – The class of this young field with several efforts in stakes company and a strong performance when shipping over to Deauville back in early August. Placed at Group 3 level at this distance at Royal Ascot and has bounced back and forth between the 5 and 6 furlong distance. William Buick first time in the saddle is always a benefit for a young horse.
1 – Threebagsfull – Stepping back up in distance and should be getting good ground on the day. The efforts this horse has put together are a bit better than they look on paper and I would be willing to take a shot that the top weight in this field could put together a really nice effort against this field.
5 – Cashew – Has been stepping up in class and although she has not handled it great, he still has been able to perform well enough in those starts. We saw what she was capable of early in the career and now Colin Keane will be getting the mount for the first time. Trainer George Boughey has continued to have his runners progressing early in their careers, it will be interesting to see if he can get this runner to continue that progression later in the season.
Longchamp – Sunday
Race 3 – GII Prix Niel – 1 1/2 Miles, 3 Year Olds
4 – Bolshoi Ballet – Frankie Dettori takes the trip over to France which most likely sent Coolmore’s main french jockey Ioritz Mendizabal to ride Baby Rider. This will be his first start back from the US after finishing 4th in the Saratoga Derby. Will be very interesting to see this runner go back to the 1 1/2 Mile distance after performing so well going shorter. Has the ability and for his 2nd time at the distance we should see improvement. Breeding suggests he will have no issues and when the only start at the distance is the Derby, you can overlook it a bit.
6 – Bubble Gift – Will appreciate a bit less give in the ground after a disappointing run stepping up to the GI Grand Prix de Paris LTO, defeated by runaway winner and yesterday’s St. Leger champion Hurricane Lane. Has won over this course recently and outside of that last start has been very good this prep. Offers great value in this field at 10/1 currently.
Race 5 – GI Prix Vermeille – 1 1/2 Miles, 3 & Up
2 – Snowfall – Looked to make a case against her and it was very difficult. The only hope to see her get beat would be that someone in the field stepping up really relishes the distance jump and Joan Of Arc would be the most likely for that. With that being said Snowfall towers over most of this field and should be a very short price on the day. She continued her dominance from the Yorkshire Oaks to the Irish and Epsom Oaks and more. We will see if someone can step up and make a massive jump up, but I don’t see it happening where they can beat her.
1 – Joan Of Arc – Of the horses who could really relish the jump up in distance, Joan Of Arc would be the one. From that spectacular family of You’resothrilling, a multiple stakes producing mare who has runners like Taj Mahal who won two Zipping Classics down in Australia over this distance, although horses like Coolmore, Gleneagles and Happily were more milers than stayers. I don’t know if she can beat Snowfall the way she is going, but the step up in distance could be the wild card that gives her that chance.
4 – Philomene – Will appreciate the ground a bit but will have to step up in distance here. This is a very tough test for the French contingent taking on the two Ballydoyle runners but Philomene looks to have the most upside if you are looking for an upset. This Godolphin runner has had a strong start to her young career and not saying she can definitely beat a horse like Snowfall, but I still expect a better performance from her last start.
Race 6 – GII Prix Foy – 1 1/2 Miles, 4 & Up
4 – Iresine – Has been on a tear lately over this distance before Jean Pierre Gauvin chose to shorten up in distance. Won her first Group stakes at the mile and a quarter and disappointed a bit as the heavy favorite in the GIII Grand Prix de Vichy. However, the form out of that race has been strong with Grand Glory coming back to upset the GI Prix Jean Romanet a few weeks ago. Gets back to what I think will be a preferred distance and will be great value.
1 – Sublimis – Despite not finding the winner’s enclosure, Sublimis has put together good efforts behind some talented stayers and will definitely benefit from less cut in the ground. Won the Prix Lord Seymour over course and distance earlier in the prep and just missed in a strong effort behind In Swoop in the GII Grand Prix de Chantilly. This could be a good spot for him to move forward and with Wonderful Tonight scratching out, the look of this race could change drastically.
5 – Skalleti – Has done nothing wrong since a tough tilt at the GI Hong Kong Cup back in December. Is coming back from a Group One triumph in Germany defeating a couple decent horses in the field including the German 2000 Guineas winner, Mythico but it wasn’t a top notch Group One. Take nothing away from Skalleti he has earned heavy favoritism but this field is small but tough. I think there is a lot of value to see this one get upset in his potential prep for the big one in a month’s time.
2 – Deep Bond – The Japanese shipper is ready for a tilt at the Arc and makes his debut on European soil. A winner of multiple stakes in Japan including an impressive triumph in the Hanshin Daishoten over just shy of 2 miles, he should be able to handle the trip very easily. The reason I shy away slightly is I think they won’t have him ready for today and will be shooting for this effort as a prep for the big race. Will be a big price and has the ability but if you like him, wait and get a much better price in a month’s time.
Race 7 – GIII Prix Du Petit Couvert – 1 13/16 Miles, 3 Year Olds Colts and Fillies
3 – Ocean – Cuts back in class and distance from the GI Prix Maurice De Gheest. Shortens up to this 5 furlong distance which despite a strong 6-7 furlong sprinters pedigree, should handle it well. From that Australian sprinting line of Lonhro out of a Compton Place mare, the drops in distance have seemed to be a big plus for this runner. The biggest question will be the ground but outside of that he should be primed for a big effort.
9 – Ken Colt – A horse I have been a big fan of throughout his career and will really relish the expected ground conditions today. Has been competitive against several of the runners in this field in recent starts and has performed at this level in the past. Last win came a year or so ago at Chantilly but I was so happy with the improvement LTO that he will be a live chance stepping back up in company.
13 – Mo Celita – Won a strong running of the Prix Moonlight Cloud LTO, although it looked like Prince Lancealot could have beaten her that day with a clean run. Despite that, she is a talented young filly who is improving. The ground will be a major question for this runner and due to the fact that she could be close to favoritism I would not make her a top play. Definitely a live chance but way too short at the moment. Keep an eye out for any market fluctuations and take chances accordingly on this runner.
Race 8 – GIII Prix Du Pin – 7 Furlongs, 3 & Up
8 – Speak Of The Devil – Tough to continue to overlook this runner after continuously strong performances at a high level. We saw a brief flash of brilliance early in her career when she missed a nose in the GI Poule d’Essai Pouliches(French 1000 Guineas) as a 3 year old, but it took some time and a trainer change for her to really start to improve. Since moving to the barn of Frederic Rossi, she has put together a nice listed win at Deauville and ran a huge 3rd to Mother Earth in the GI Prix Rothschild, a horse who got held up today and cost her possibly another Group One score. I think you have to stick with this filly as she just continues to get better and better this prep.
4 – Sagamiyra – This daughter of Sea The Moon has been outstanding so far this season and will be one of the few horses in this field that should appreciate less give in the ground. Just missed a head to Mother Earth LTO as well as running a great race in the GIII Prix Bertrand du Breuil behind a big turn around performance from Ecrivain that day. A winner over 7 furlongs at the track and is tested well at the distance. A deserving favorite if she ends up being so.
5 – Tropbeau – Was 93/1 when running a massive 2nd place behind Marianafoot in the GI Prix Maurice De Gheest, defeating top european sprinter Starman in the process among others. Has always been very consistent throughout her career for this daughter of Showcasing, but at the same time hasn’t been able to get over the hump. Ground won’t be as ideal for her this time around but the class drop will give her a live chance, unfortunately you won’t be getting a price that could light up your toteboard.