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Homeracing

2019 Belmont Oaks international scouting reports: Olendon, Just Wonderful, Coral Beach, Jodie

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

July 5th, 2019

As in Saturday’s Belmont Derby Invitational (G1), the companion Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) features an Aidan O’Brien pair along with contenders from France and Japan. In another point of commonality, American-based runners have won four of five editions since the race was revamped in 2014. Unlike the Belmont Derby, however, the Oaks has been Chad Brown’s playground with three wins in this time frame, capped by a trifecta in 2017. (And that’s not even counting his wins in its former guise as the Garden City.) O’Brien interrupted the narrative last year thanks to Athena, and her “niece” Just Wonderful hopes to follow in her hoofsteps. Stablemate Coral Beach doesn’t have the same back class but at least enters on the upswing. The Pascal Bary-trained Olendon is the only one of the international quartet to boast a Group 1-placing, while Japanese shipper Jodie might punch above her weight if she embraces the role of controlling speed. OLENDON Bary, who will be handing Olendon over to Brown after Saturday, praised the Le Havre filly in comments to Paris-Turf earlier this season:
C'est une pouliche très qualiteuse que j'ai toujours appréciée.
You almost don’t need Google translate to get the gist – “She is a very high quality filly that I have always appreciated.” Indeed, Olendon’s nominations to such major events as the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) and the French fillies’ classics speak the same language of high regard. Descended from the blue hen *Rough Shod II by way of her Horse of the Year daughter Moccasin, she hails from the same branch of the family as Stormy Atlantic and current Ashland (G1) heroine Out for a Spin. Olendon was favored in her career debut at Saint-Cloud last summer, but ran a one-paced fourth. The chestnut made prompt amends next time at Deauville, where she launched a strong sustained run to get up. Back over the same course and distance in the Prix Six Perfections (G3), Olendon never picked up in a subpar seventh. She was subsequently sidelined for the rest of the year. In her April 14 comeback in a ParisLongchamp conditions race versus males, Olendon was in the hunt before flattening out in a close fourth. That set her up perfectly for her spring objectives. Olendon broke through two weeks later in the Prix Finlande. Traveling well at every stage – into the bit but not too aggressive – she took command and repelled a challenge from favored Blanche Doree. The form wasn’t anything special, so Olendon was dismissed at 49-1 on the substantial class hike in the May 26 Prix Saint-Alary (G1). But she proved the market wrong when finishing second to hot favorite Siyarafina. Following that Aga Khan homebred throughout, Olendon kept on well enough in her slipstream to claim the best-of-the-rest mantle. Siyarafina didn’t exactly boost that result in the French Oaks (G1), winding up sixth, but other Saint-Alary alumnae have held their own in the interim. Third-placer Imperial Charm, previously fourth in the French 1000 Guineas (G1), was third again in the Prix Chloe (G3). Fourth-placer Cala Terida was a close fifth in a blanket finish to the French Oaks, and the Saint-Alary fifth, Merimbula, has since placed third in the Prix de Malleret (G2). That synopsis prompts the question of how Olendon might have fared in the French Oaks. She ended up skipping the classic around the same time that owner Gerard Augustin-Normand sold her privately to a partnership spearheaded by Wonder Stables and Madaket Stables. The Belmont Oaks became her new target, and between her prior reputation and current form, Olendon rates a serious threat. JUST WONDERFUL The blueblood daughter of Dansili and Wading, who is herself a Montjeu three-quarter sister to 2018 Belmont Oaks upsetter Athena, has arguably been crying out for this trip. Yet Just Wonderful has been an enigma in both seasons of racing so far. As recounted in her Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) scouting report, the descendant of the great matron Urban Sea broke her maiden in eye-catching fashion first time out, only to disappoint thereafter. Just Wonderful later continued her roller coaster ride when capturing the Flame of Tara (G3), flopping in the Moyglare Stud (G1), and rebounding in the Rockfel (G2). Just Wonderful was among those who couldn’t get close to Newspaperofrecord in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, but she performed respectably to churn her way into fourth. Kicking off 2019 in Newmarket’s 1000 Guineas (G1), Just Wonderful rallied for sixth under very sympathetic handling. She was near the rear much of the way, kept changing her legs as though trying to get balanced on the track, and did her best work on the uphill finish. This was a pleasing starting point especially if plotting a step up in trip. Compare fellow O’Brien trainee Fleeting, who moved forward from a dead last in the Guineas to place third in the Oaks (G1). Instead of stretching out, Just Wonderful stuck to a mile for the Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) and went backward. She was right behind eventual winner Hermosa, only to fade to seventh. At this point the French Oaks could have looked a good spot, but O’Brien ended up swerving Chantilly with his fillies. Thus Just Wonderful headed to the Coronation (G1) at Royal Ascot, and again never factored around the mile, the rider wrapping up once it was obvious she was going nowhere. Considering that Just Wonderful was already a winner over a mile at two, it stands to reason that she’s looking for longer trips now. Her race record and visual impressions dovetail with her pedigree. Dam Wading, aside from being closely related to Athena, is a full sister to 2014 Irish Oaks (G1) and Ribblesdale (G2) queen Bracelet, and her further maternal relatives include Galileo and Sea the Stars. That said, I’d feel a little better if Just Wonderful had shown a modicum of competitiveness in her last pair. She’s eminently logical if not easy to trust. CORAL BEACH Another eligible to prosper on the stretch-out, Coral Beach is a Zoffany half-sister to 2015 German Oaks (G1) third Amona. Although her high-profile “uncles” Abbashiva and Abbadjinn excelled over shorter, there’s stamina further in the family. Her relative Kluger briefly made international headlines when chasing home Winx in her Queen Elizabeth (G1) finale. Coral Beach was busy at two, in part because it took 11 tries to break her maiden. She’d often run well, though, placing seven times, and she scored the first time she added a tongue strap. Tucked just behind the leaders in a Cork sprint, she got the seam and drove through. Jockey Seamie Heffernan summed it up for irishracing.com:
She has been a little bit disappointing but she works like a Group filly and I wouldn't be surprised if she ended up winning a Group race.
Coral Beach vindicated that belief after squeezing in two more starts last October. She dropped to fifth when trying a mile in the Staffordstown Stud, but bounced back to upset the boys in the seven-furlong Killavullan (G3). The 16-1 shot made smooth progress from well back and rallied up the rail for Michael Hussey, who also rides her here. Coral Beach passed better-fancied stablemate Old Glory and had a length to spare from Guaranteed, the next-out winner of the Eyrefield (G3). Coral Beach aimed high in the mile classics this spring. She never landed a blow from near the rear in the French 1000 Guineas (G1), and checked in eighth again in the Irish equivalent. Unlike Just Wonderful, she got class relief in the Sandringham, a Royal Ascot handicap, and responded with a closing fourth that telegraphed a desire for more ground. Note that she also added the tongue strap back on there, apparently a key piece of equipment for her. On paper, Coral Beach has a fair bit to find, but the 15-1 chance could find it in this first try beyond a mile. JODIE Although a notch below the divisional leaders in Japan, Jodie’s record is better at Tokyo than anywhere else, and that might be a harbinger of her chances here. Both trainer Hirofumi Toda and jockey Miyabi Muto have told NYRA publicity that Belmont Park reminds them of her favorite track. I’d add that her early speed stands to be more effective in American conditions too. By the Sunday Silence stallion Daiwa Major, twice Japan’s champion miler, Jodie is out of a Monsun half-sister to Australian Group 1 hero Mawingo. Her fourth dam is Broodmare of the Year Glowing Tribute (responsible for Sea Hero et al). Jodie wired a newcomers’ race at Tokyo last June. Displaying a high cruising speed, she kept up the momentum to cover her final three furlongs in :34.2 and polish off the metric mile in 1:35.9. Then emerged her pattern of not performing up to her best elsewhere. A creditable fourth versus males in the Niigata Nisai (G3), Jodie was a less inspiring fourth in an allowance at Nakayama (her first experience of a right-handed course). A return to Tokyo in November also brought about a return to winner’s circle. Jodie grabbed the early lead in an allowance and was all out to last on the head-bob from Madras Check in 1:34.3. Madras Check has since developed into a stakes winner on the dirt and most recently placed second in the Kanto Oaks. Venturing to right-handed Hanshin for the championship event in her division, the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1), Jodie ran like the longshot she was, retreating from midpack to 16th of 18. But that wasn’t a true reflection of her ability. Ignored at 27-1 in the Daily Hai Queen Cup (G3) back at Tokyo, Jodie was in her element as she led most of the way before being collared late and settling for third. The winner, Chrono Genesis, ranks among the leaders of her crop after a trio of Grade 1 placings, including two classics. Also, the Queen Cup fourth, Curren Bouquetd’or, just missed in the Japanese Oaks (G1). After a fifth in Nakayama’s Flower Cup (G3), Jodie came close to upsetting a classic trial again at her favorite track in the Sankei Sports Sho Flora (G2). The stretch-out to about 1 1/4 miles made no difference to her running style, as the 27-1 outsider free-wheeled it up front. As in the Queen Cup, she was beaten for finishing speed as two with a sharper kick, Victoria and Shadow Diva, nabbed her – but not by much in a time of 1:59.5. Jodie could not duplicate the effort as a far bigger longshot (121-1) in the about 1 1/2-mile Japanese Oaks, tiring to 14th of 18 in her only poor result at Tokyo. Her early pace nevertheless helped set the table for Loves Only You’s stakes-record 2:22.8. The cutback to 1 1/4 miles helps, but this circuit plays to her strengths if she can clear them early. While Jodie is still vulnerable to rivals packing greater acceleration, a flat track might carry the 20-1 longshot a little bit further than the stiffer test of Tokyo. Photo: Just Wonderful training before the Breeders' Cup (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

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