Antonoe aims for stardom in Marcel Boussac

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October 2nd, 2015

Sunday’s blockbuster Arc card also showcases budding stars in two juvenile contests. And the day could get off to a rousing start at 8 a.m. (EDT) with Antonoe in the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1).

Trained by Pascal Bary for Juddmonte, the daughter of First Defence has looked out of the ordinary in both starts so far. She pummeled next-out winner Qemah in their mutual debut at Deauville, then dominated the Prix d’Aumale (G3) in another front-running tour de force. Antonoe drew off in the manner of a high-class individual, and she can confirm that status by passing a stiffer class test here.

Ballydoyle, also a pace factor, sets the standard on form. Trained by Aidan O’Brien (who else with a name like that?!), she’s a full sister to Misty for Me, who turned the Moyglare Stud (G1)/Boussac double in 2010 and added the Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) and Pretty Polly (G1) in 2011. Ballydoyle looked green in her first two outings, but hit her stride at Newmarket when dispatching Nemoralia (a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies [G1] hope who runs in Saturday’s Frizette [G1]). After readily capturing the Debutante (G2) on the front end, Ballydoyle couldn’t repeat the feat in the Moyglare. The difference was the rain-softened ground, enabling Debutante runner-up Minding to turn the tables. Ballydoyle should get better conditions at Longchamp, but maybe not quite her “firm” ideal.

Fellow Irish raider Turret Rocks has longshot appeal. The Jim Bolger pupil is two-for-two at a mile, both coming on good going that may be closer to what she’ll find here. By Fastnet Rock and out of a Galileo mare, Turret Rocks hails from the family of Goldikova. But she appears a somewhat dour type. Debuting at a mile, she defeated the smart colt True Solitaire, who’s since finished second in both the Juvenile (G3) at Leopardstown and the Beresford (G2) at the Curragh. Although Turret Rocks wasn’t as well suited cutting back to seven furlongs, she was a creditable third in the Silver Flash (G3) and fourth to Ballydoyle in the Debutante. Back up to a mile in the May Hill (G2) at Doncaster, she stayed on strongly in the final yards to get up.

Wertheimer et Frere’s homebred Left Hand is also worth a look in light of her fluent debut victory over this course and distance. The only thing she did wrong that day was break a tad slowly; otherwise, she established a fine stalking position in second and went on to prevail by a measured length. A well-bred daughter of Dubawi, the Carlos Laffon-Parias filly will stay a lot farther in time. Her dam is Prix de Royallieu (G2) winner Balladeuse, a Singspiel half-sister to Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1) heroine Plumania.

Unlike the clarity of the top two in the Boussac, the ensuing Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) (8:35 a.m. EDT) has a more open look about it.

For that reason, I’m very intrigued by Andre Fabre’s unbeaten Ultra. Not that I wouldn’t be smitten by a son of Manduro, out of a Nashwan mare, from the all-star family of Bosra Sham, in any case. But the Godolphin runner is two-for-two, showing tactical versatility by winning on the front end at Clairefontaine before going last to first in a Longchamp conditions race. Moreover, Fabre had another natural candidate for Godolphin in Cloth of Stars, the Prix des Chenes (G3) winner, who’s earmarked for Monday’s Prix de Conde (G3). That could be a tantalizing clue about Ultra’s chances.

Godolphin has two others entered, the Bolger-trained Herald the Dawn and Cymric from the John Gosden yard. Herald the Dawn warrants respect as the Futurity hero who was runner-up to O’Brien’s exciting Air Force Blue in the National (G1). And as a full brother to Dawn Approach, he’s entitled to thrive over a mile. Cymric, on the other hand, is less enticing. Lucky to hold on from the light-years-the-best Massaat in a Sandown maiden, Cymric was a well-beaten third in the Acomb (G3) at York. He rebounded on the class drop back at Sandown. By Kitten’s Joy, the descendant of unbeaten Hall of Famer Personal Ensign has room to develop further, but it’s questionable whether he can jump up in this spot.

O’Brien is double-handed with Shogun, a live upset chance, and Johannes Vermeer, who may be a vulnerable favorite.

Shogun, a full brother to this year’s Oaks (G1) shocker Qualify, needed blinkers to help his focus second time out at the Curragh, and he responded to win convincingly while still looking green. Never happy on the rain-softened ground in the Futurity, Shogun labored home in third. He shaped as the yard’s first string in the Juvenile at Leopardstown, but was scratched when the course came up yielding.

In his absence, Johannes Vermeer – a Killarney maiden winner in his prior start – got the job done over True Solitaire and Bolger’s highly regarded Sanus Per Aquam. On the basis of that nifty formline, I guess it’s understandable that Ryan Moore is on Johannes Vermeer here. But my instinct is that Shogun may be the better of the pair, and eligible to show it over better ground. And since he may not be the most straightforward character, Joseph O’Brien’s familiarity with him may help.

Ventura Storm is another outsider to consider. By hot freshman sire Zoffany, the Richard Hannon juvenile was third to subsequent Acomb winner Recorder on debut. Ventura Storm has since won two straight going a mile, getting stronger the further he went. The form of both his Newmarket maiden and his Salisbury novice looks decent, but he might prefer the ground to be a little softer.

Galileo Gold brings a three-race winning streak, culminating in the Vintage (G2) at Glorious Goodwood. That form ties in with two of the most exciting two-year-old colts in Europe: Vintage runner-up Ibn Malik was a humbled second in the Champagne (G2) to Emotionless, while Vintage fifth Birchwood was third to Air Force Blue in the National. Prix La Rochette (G3) victor Attendu and Solario (G3) winner First Selection also boast notable laurels, if not as notable form.