Arlington Million international scouting report: Scottish
Ironically Scottish had been owned by Fitri Hay, Deauville’s breeder and co-owner, before his sale to Godolphin. Full brother Royal Empire was a past Godolphin runner himself, his career highlight coming in the 2013 Geoffrey Freer (G3) for Saeed bin Suroor.
By the Galileo stallion Teofilo (also the sire of Secretariat [G1] threat Permian), Scottish was originally purchased for €170,000 as a Goffs Orby yearling. Dam Zeiting was a French stakes winner who landed three U.S. turf stakes for Christophe Clement, the Miss Liberty, Frances A. Genter, and Omnibus. She became a prolific producer. Aside from Royal Empire and Scottish, Zeiting is responsible for Italian co-highweight and German Group 2 scorer Combat Zone; multiple Group 3-placed Bikini Babe; and Group 3-placed Zut Alors, herself the dam of current French 1000 Guineas (G1) queen Precieuse.
Unraced at two, Scottish developed over the course of his three-year-old season for Hay and initial trainer Andrew Balding. Fresh off his maiden score, he was runner-up in the King George V, a 1 1/2-mile heritage handicap at Royal Ascot, and handled another class hike when second to Highland Reel in the Gordon (G3) over the same distance at Glorious Goodwood. That was the race propelling Highland Reel to Secretariat glory at Arlington in 2015.
Scottish continued his climb to try older horses in the Grand Prix de Deauville (G2), but the combination of pulling his head off early, and very soft ground, resulted in a fifth to the classy mare Siljan’s Saga. He was much more himself back on a better surface, and down in trip, in the 1 1/4-mile Doonside Cup at Ayr, defeating Mutakayyef (then in his frustrating pre-gelded days) and Exospheric.
Following that apposite first stakes win in Scotland, Scottish was snapped up by Godolphin and transferred to Charlie Appleby. He made his debut in the royal blue silks in the 2016 Brigadier Gerard (G3) at Sandown, embroiled in the pace and tiring to third behind Time Test in a fast time for the 10-furlong trip.
WATCH: Time Test grinds down last year's winner Western Hymn despite his 5lbs penalty to win the Brigadier Gerard. https://t.co/Nx17QsVar5— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) May 26, 2016
Scottish improved second time out, admittedly in an easier spot, to wire last summer’s Steventon at Newbury. He was emulating aforementioned full brother Royal Empire, who captured the 2013 Steventon (in very different style from off the pace).
WATCH: A never-say-die, pillar-to-post win for Scottish in the bet365 Stakes at Newbury. https://t.co/qi2nOe3qrN— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) July 16, 2016
Attempting to repeat the front-running feat in the Rose of Lancaster (G3) at Haydock, Scottish couldn’t give three-year-old Royal Artillery seven pounds, and the barging match didn’t help. Jockey William Buick wrapped up to protect him late and almost lost second to the closing Arab Spring.
Appleby and Buick learned something about Scottish that day, according to Godolphin.com. While Appleby believed “he may have been a little bit intimidated” on the inside, Buick also critiqued his ride:
“I was a bit too confident on the front last time at Haydock and sat too long.”
Scottish then employed stalk-and-pounce tactics to great effect in the Strensall (G3), finishing nine furlongs in a York course-record 1:46.61.
Although Scottish had already been eyeing a trip to Australia, Appleby said that he needed to run well at York to punch his ticket, and that comment might as well have served as motivation.
Last October’s Caulfield Cup (G1) ended up being his target, leaving Godolphin comrade Hartnell to face Winx (fruitlessly again) in the Cox Plate (G1). Thus Scottish was pitched into his first start over 1 1/2 miles since his sophomore season.
Off a beat slowly, and awkwardly, he tossed his head finding himself buried in the pack. New pilot Kerrin McEvoy steered him into the clear and gave him his cue. Scottish advanced out wide into a contending position on the first turn, and he was traveling so well down the backstretch that McEvoy let him go on with it. Scottish spurted ahead and whipped around the final turn in a bold bid, but the favorite Jameka had his move covered and soon overpowered him. There was no disgrace in finishing second to this high-class mare who was bound for an international grand tour, likely including Royal Ascot, until being sidelined.
Scottish was also engaged in the Melbourne Cup (G1), but his Caulfield performance indicated that two miles may be a bridge too far. McEvoy reportedly believed that 1 1/4 miles was his optimal distance, so the Godolphin brain trust resolved to revert in trip for the Emirates (G1) instead. Unfortunately, Scottish had to be scratched with an issue in his left front. Even then, his connections were plotting a path Down Under for 2017.
Not seen again until this summer’s Royal Ascot, Scottish was handed a tough comeback assignment in the Prince of Wales’s (G1). He set the pace under prompting from Highland Reel, and hung tough with that Ballydoyle warrior until the final furlong. Scottish understandably needed one off the bench, so his fifth to Highland Reel, Decorated Knight, Ulysses, and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) winner Queen’s Trust was respectable. Note that he just holds fifth from the belatedly rallying Mekhtaal, who’ll reoppose in the Million:
His Prince of Wales’s is significant on two counts: it gives Scottish proper European Group 1 bona fides, which he’d hitherto lacked, and it is reminiscent of his 2016 reappearance in the Brigadier Gerard. Scottish was a different animal second-up last summer, presaging another leap forward here. Obviously the Arlington Million is a lot more challenging than his corresponding run at Newbury a year ago, but he’s a more mature article by this point too.
If Scottish brings fine tactical speed, firm ground preference, and a willing attitude, he will meet a similar profile in Deauville. Their forward running styles ensure the old-fashioned Godolphin vs. Coolmore game will be on right out of the gate.
Photo courtesy of Godolphin via Twitter