Arabian Queen stuns Golden Horn in Juddmonte International
Sent off at 50-1 in England and available at 44-1 in the U.S. pools, the three-year-old filly took over from Golden Horn's "rabbit," Dick Doughtywylie, inside of a quarter-mile, was headed and passed briefly by the 4-9 favorite, and then re-rallied in the final yards to gain the edge by a neck under Silvestre de Sousa.
Arabian Queen is only the sixth filly or mare ever to win the about 1 5/16-mile race, joining Dahlia (1974-75), Cormorant Wood (1984), Triptych (1987), In the Groove (1990), and One So Wonderful (1998). In the Groove was the only previous three-year-old filly winner.
A daughter of Dubawi and Barshiba, a two-time winner of the 1 1/2-mile Lancashire Oaks (G2), Arabian Queen had appeared well-exposed entering the International. Although a winner of the six-furlong Duchess of Cambridge (G2) at Newmarket last year and the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth (G3) at Epsom in June, she burned out after setting the pace in the Coronation (G1) and Falmouth (G1), both over a mile.
Her performance in the about 1 1/4-mile Nassau at Goodwood (G1) earlier this month was better -- third by 3 3/4 lengths behind the classic-winning Legatissimo -- but hardly suggested she had the goods to up-end this type of field with an age and sex allowance ranging from three to 11 pounds.
The beaten protagonists all blamed the good-to-soft conditions. Steady rain into the overnight hours gave the ground just enough cut, and Team Coolmore a good-enough reason, to withdraw second-choice Gleneagles within two hours of post. The dual Guineas winner has now been withdrawn from or consideration from three Group 1s in the last month due to wet conditions, and in hindsight the colt saved face Wednesday.
Jockey Frankie Dettori, aboard Golden Horn, felt his colt was too keen early, having not run since the Eclipse in early July, and was unable to show his best turn of foot in the conditions. He, too, had been a very late withdrawal due to soft conditions in last month's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II (G1), and will go on in search of faster ground. The same goes for The Grey Gatsby, the race's top older horse who was a non-threatening third, and the three-year-old Time Test, coming off a Grade 3 score at Royal Ascot.
The question is will any of them get it? There is no guarantee The Grey Gatsby and/or Time Test will find their preferred ground in either the Irish Champion (G1) at Leopardstown or Champion (G1) at Ascot, although they would both likely take a chance in the latter as the flat season winds down. The same goes for Golden Horn, who is expected to run in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) regardless of conditions, with a possible stop in an Arc trial beforehand.
Gleneagles has many more options being the top three-year-old miler on the continent, but again there is no guarantee the prevailing conditions in the next couple of months will ultimately suit him. Connections might have to bite the bullet at some point lest he be too fresh like Golden Horn was in the International.
American racing fans of a certain age can recall when it was highly unusual to see a European runner or import not be somewhat proficient on softer footing. Times have evidently changed.
As for Arabian Queen, she has owner-breeder Jeff Smith dreaming big. The British Champions Filly & Mares (G1) over 12 furlongs at Ascot appears the season-ending goal, with a campaign next year possibly geared toward a run at the Arc.
Over land that was once the site of public executions, Arabian Queen now will be long-remembered for claiming a highly prominent scalp.
(Juddmonte Internatonal photo courtesy of Sportinglife.com)