BC Internationals: Filly & Mare Turf/Turf contender Seventh Heaven

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October 28th, 2016

Seventh Heaven is one of those obvious contenders you must respect, but at the same time pose just enough of a question to appear vulnerable.

One of Aidan O’Brien’s army by supersire Galileo, Seventh Heaven has an abundance of class, and she thrives in fast conditions. The only nagging question is the distance of the Filly & Mare Turf (G1). With her signature wins at 1 1/2 miles, a cutback to 1 1/4 miles presents a new variable, especially at this level. Her pacesetting sidekick Pretty Perfect will ensure a quick tempo (as if there’s not already enough pace on tap here), but can it actually turn into a stamina test on this kind of course? Hard to imagine outside of the San Juan Capistrano.

Since Seventh Heaven and Pretty Perfect were cross-entered to the 1 1/2-mile Turf (G1), you’ve got to wonder if the Coolmore brain trust isn’t thinking along similar lines. The Filly & Mare remains first preference for both, though. They've got Highland Reel all set for the Turf, and Found just in case (but she'll likely stick with her first preference in the Classic [G1]).

Although Seventh Heaven didn’t break her maiden until April, she soon proved she belonged in the top tier. She made her stakes debut in the Lingfield Oaks Trial, and despite not seeming to love the undulating course, she ultimately prevailed by a neck. On a more conventional track, Seventh Heaven would probably have won more comfortably.


Seventh Heaven somewhat surprisingly advanced to the Oaks at Epsom (G1), where she was an unhappy sixth behind stablemate Minding. If she didn’t care for Lingfield, there was little reason to suppose she’d enjoy the quirks of Epsom, and the softish conditions turned the whole thing into a debacle. Adding salt to the wound, it was the filly she’d collared at Lingfield – Architecture – who finished runner-up in the Oaks. On form, then, this was a total toss for Seventh Heaven.

The Irish Oaks (G1) was an entirely different proposition, contested on good ground around the serene expanse of the Curragh. Handed the perfect set-up by Pretty Perfect, Seventh Heaven set the record straight by drubbing Architecture and the third-placer from Epsom, Harlequeen.


Seventh Heaven faced her first clash with older distaffers in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1), chief among them Found. But Found was just resuming from her summer vacation, not fully cranked and spotting a razor-sharp Seventh Heaven 10 pounds. Seventh Heaven took full advantage in this “Win and You’re In” for the Filly & Mare Turf. Again benefiting from the services of Pretty Perfect, she stayed on strongly to topple Found and Filly & Mare Turf rival Queen’s Trust by open lengths.


As good as Seventh Heaven looked at York, her margin over Found isn’t a true bill. Found improved markedly for that tightener, just missing in the Irish Champion (G1) before leading the O’Brien sweep of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1).

Freshened for a couple of months, Seventh Heaven next appeared in the British Champions Fillies and Mares (G1). Things went wrong from the draw when she landed in the far outside 13. Ryan Moore tried to mitigate the damage by dropping back and veering to the rail, but then Seventh Heaven got buffeted as the field all bunched up and got in each other’s way. She had to work to find room in the homestretch, didn’t do a lot with it, and wound up fifth. Queen’s Trust outkicked her in third.


Seventh Heaven probably deserves a mulligan for her Champions Day reverse. O’Brien also had the Breeders’ Cup in view ever since the Yorkshire Oaks, and she’s entitled to move forward second time off the break.

On the other hand, Seventh Heaven has thrived over a fast-run 1 1/2 miles, concluding in a long home straight that gives her plenty of time to wind up from well back. Judging by what we’ve seen of her so far, I’m not so sure she’ll be as enamored of 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita.

The operative phrase is “so far,” since on pedigree she should have a bit of zip. Her dam, the Grade 3-winning Johannesburg mare La Traviata, was sixth as the 2-1 favorite in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Monmouth in 2007. Retired after suffering that one and only loss, La Traviata has produced two other Breeders’ Cup starters. Crusade, the 2011 Middle Park (G1) winner, was sixth in the Juvenile (G1). Cristoforo Colombo, multiple Group 2-placed at two, was seventh in the 2013 Mile (G1) at Santa Anita.

Might American conditions tease out those latent genes and make Seventh Heaven look a little more brilliant?

Photo courtesy of Coolmore via Twitter