BC Internationals: Juvenile Turf contender Intelligence Cross
As a War Front colt with European Group form for Aidan O’Brien, Intelligence Cross demands a look in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
The Kentucky-bred is a full brother to Warning Flag, winner of the 2010 Star Appeal and runner up in the Killavullan (G3) during his juvenile campaign for David Wachman. Sold to Hong Kong and renamed “Sweet Orange,” he performed well in all three legs of the Four-Year-Old Series. He captured the 2012 Hong Kong Classic Mile, missed by a nose in the Hong Kong Classic Cup, and went down by a half-length when third in the Hong Kong Derby. Sweet Orange also finished third to Japan’s Rulership in the QEII Cup (G1) at Sha Tin.
That preamble about Warning Flag/Sweet Orange implies that Intelligence Cross may have a little more to offer than he’s shown so far.
Not given a hard time on debut, when his late rally came up just short, Intelligence Cross turned in a professional score next time at the Curragh on Irish Derby Day. He thereby earned a crack against better rivals during Newmarket’s July Festival.
Off slowly in the July S. (G2), Intelligence Cross found himself outpaced for a little while, but hit his stride late and finished a half-length second to Mehmas. You could hardly ask for a more reliable yardstick, as Mehmas entered as a two-time winner already and runner-up to O’Brien’s highly touted Caravaggio in the Coventry (G2) at Royal Ascot.
Intelligence Cross tried Mehmas again in the Richmond (G2) at Glorious Goodwood, but after racing more prominently early, he couldn’t go on with his familiar foe. The streetwise Mehmas outpointed Godolphin’s less experienced Blue Point, and the top two left Intelligence Cross more than three lengths astern in third.
Intended for the Gimcrack (G2) during York’s Ebor Festival, Intelligence Cross was withdrawn due to ground concerns. He instead received class relief in the Round Tower (G3) back home at the Curragh, and blew his overmatched rivals away in style.
Intelligence Cross got a rematch with Mehmas and Blue Point in the September 24 Middle Park (G1) at Newmarket. He was in contention before becoming unbalanced in the “Dip,” and took time to re-organize. Although Intelligence Cross did recover his bearings, it was too late, and he wound up fourth to front-running upsetter The Last Lion. He still couldn’t overturn the form with runner-up Blue Point and third-placer Mehmas.
Intelligence Cross has spent his entire six-race career at six furlongs, in keeping with O’Brien’s comment to irishracing.com that he’s “a big, strong horse and made like a sprinter.”
Interestingly, eight of the nine winners of the Juvenile Turf had prior experience over seven furlongs or longer (Hootenanny in 2014, at Santa Anita, being the lone exception). But with Santa Anita’s two-turn mile requiring a fair amount of speed, Intelligence Cross figures to cope with it. And he’ll love the firm ground.
The other caveat is that Intelligence Cross may end up being an underlay owing to his connections. He’s been a consistent type, competing in good races against the precocious standard-bearers of his crop. But with the passage of time, the later developers are catching up, and his form may not age well. Still, Intelligence Cross is eminently logical.
Photo courtesy of Ladbrokes via Twitter