2018 Arlington Million international scouting report: Century Dream
Century Dream sets off on his first transatlantic expedition after hitting new heights this season for Simon Crisford. Although untested in stakes company until 2018, he had been given marquee entries at both two and three, so his development isn’t exactly a surprise.
Best suited to ground with some ease in it, Century Dream finished no better than third from four starts with “firm” in the going description. But he was still a close fourth in the Queen Anne (G1) on good-to-firm at Royal Ascot, and more rain this week in Chicago would boost his chances.
Fittingly for a horse trained by Godolphin’s former racing manager, Century Dream sports a Darley/Godolphin pedigree. Both parents were homebreds who spent part of their racing careers in the Godolphin fold. Sire Cape Cross later excelled himself at stud by getting Sea the Stars, Golden Horn, and Ouija Board. Dam Salacia is by the Dubai Millennium stallion Echo of Light and out of French Group 3 winner Neptune’s Bride. Salacia placed second to future star The Fugue in a Newmarket maiden before leaving Godolphin. She went on to break her maiden in the silks of Abdulla Belhabb, who also campaigns Century Dream.
After Century Dream began his career as a juvenile with a fifth and a third on firmish ground, he broke his maiden at his first chance on good-to-soft at Nottingham, beating another smart prospect in Ajman King.
Crisford scratched Century Dream from his intended 2017 debut at Newmarket on account of the quick conditions. Upped in trip to 1 1/4 miles for a handicap at Sandown, he checked in third. Century Dream was supplemented to the Dante (G2), but it was a brief flirtation, and Crisford kept him in handicap company throughout his sophomore season. He was next seen in the lucrative London Gold Cup, where he finished fourth to an emerging Defoe.
Reverting to a mile, and adding a hood, proved the winning formula for Century Dream. In stalk and pounce fashion, he rolled in a Doncaster handicap on soft and defeated older horses on good ground at Ayr. Although unable to complete the hat trick on 12 days’ rest when sixth at Ascot, Century Dream responded to a two-month freshening. He bounced back to conclude the year with two straight wins lugging 133 pounds versus his elders, posting a narrow victory over a heavy-ground mile at Haydock and earning his stripes at 1 1/4 miles at Newbury.
Now Crisford was ready to try the four-year-old Century Dream at a higher level this campaign. His first stakes try in the April 8 Prix d’Harcourt (G2) was a non-event, as he never got involved in a too-bad-to-be-true 11th. Perhaps he’d outgrown the need for the hood, since Crisford subsequently took it off.
The hoodless Century Dream promptly regrouped back at a mile in the May 2 Paradise S. at Ascot. Outfinishing Crazy Horse, he left Accidental Agent back in third and Million rival Circus Couture (whose scouting report is forthcoming) in fifth.
The Diomed (G3) on Epsom Derby Day was an ideal spot for a Group breakthrough, as an about 1 1/16-mile affair on ground with some residual moisture, and Century Dream continued his ascent. The 11-4 favorite traveled like a dream, angled out, and comfortably stretched clear of a useful bunch. Veteran yardstick Gabrial was second, followed by True Valour (subsequently seventh when trying 1 1/8 miles in the Eddie Read [G2]), defending champion Sovereign Debt (who returned to capture the Ganton at York), and Breton Rock (who just missed as the defending champion in the Lennox [G2] at Glorious Goodwood last out).
Those efforts earned Century Dream a supplementary entry to the June 19 Queen Anne, connections apparently in hopeful mood to put up the £55,000. Crisford had previously mentioned rain-softened ground as a prerequisite, but the 20-1 shot coped well enough on the firmish track to go close. Striking the front briefly, he wound up fourth to 33-1 shocker Accidental Agent, his victim in the Paradise over the same course and distance.
Century Dream was edged for third by the classy Lightning Spear, the next-out hero of the Sussex (G1). Several notables failed to fire their best shot, including Rhododendron, Benbatl, and Million rival Deauville, who set the pace but retreated tamely in 11th.
Returning to Ascot for the July 14 Summer Mile (G2), this time over the round course rather than the straight of the Queen Anne, Century Dream did not run up to that level when fourth again. Aside from the fact that he hasn’t prospered going right-handed in the past, tactics didn’t help. His hand was arguably forced by being drawn widest of all in post 9, so he forced the early issue before chasing in second, and his exertions caught up with him late. A different draw might well have produced a different result. In any event, Century Dream was still superior to the well-beaten seventh Circus Couture.
Our feature race yesterday, the Group 2 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes saw a fantastic victory for Beat The Bank... pic.twitter.com/OS02fe0t9p— Ascot Racecourse (@Ascot) July 15, 2018
The top three, like Century Dream, were all coming off the Queen Anne. Summer Mile winner Beat the Bank was improving from a sixth at the Royal meeting, Lord Glitters was runner-up in both, and third-placer Suedois was turning the page from a 14th. They wheeled back at Glorious Goodwood with mixed results, Lord Glitters continuing his good form with a third in the Sussex, where Beat the Bank was fifth, and Suedois was a bang-up second in the Lennox.
Century Dream brings smart form over a mile, and if his aptitude for 1 1/4 miles at the top level is a question mark, he should get the distance around a track like Arlington. There’s also the proviso about ground condition, since he’d appreciate an easier surface more so than firm. But Century Dream has the most upside of the European trio against a robust American squad. Unlike the known quantities -- the classy but win-shy Deauville and the exposed Circus Couture -- Century Dream is a progressive type who may not have reached his ceiling yet.
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