BC Internationals: Mile contender Home of the Brave
Home of the Brave was pitched into last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) when his chances of drawing into the Mile (G1) appeared dodgy, and it just didn’t pan out for him. Now trainer Hugo Palmer is happy to be in the “right” race as the speedy Godolphin runner tackles the Mile at Del Mar.
In his international profile for last year’s Breeders’ Cup, I thought that the Turf Sprint was the better spot, mainly because there was a superabundance of speed in the Mile. Instead of getting in a pace war while stepping up in trip, chasing a swift pace over Santa Anita’s downhill struck me as a reasonable option for a seven-furlong specialist. But Home of the Brave proved the fallacy of that logic when simply getting run off his feet and backing up to 11th.
I’d still think that the 2016 Mile wouldn’t have worked either, with What a View torching everyone with a wild early pace. Home of the Brave appeared to have a more realistic set-up in this year’s Mile, where he could have outfooted Heart to Heart early. But the pace complexion has changed, particularly with the addition of Midnight Storm. Now Home of the Brave will either have to gun it from post 9 and mix it up with other serious speed, or the free-running type will have to adjust to stalking on the fly.
On the plus side, Home of the Brave has been in good form all season. He successfully defended his title in Leicester’s King Richard III, motoring seven furlongs in front-running fashion in 1:22.24. Aside from the smart time, runner-up Tasleet furnishes a snappy form angle, as he’s gone on to win the Duke of York (G2) and place in the Diamond Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot, Haydock Sprint Cup (G1), and British Champions Sprint (G1).
Home of the Brave made it two straight in the Criterion (G3) over Newmarket’s July Course, where he was in the vanguard early before asserting.
In the Lennox (G2) at Glorious Goodwood, Home of the Brave was a heroic second in his wire attempt. After coming back to fight off Limato as the other closers (including Suedois) swooped, he never saw the 50-1 Breton Rock flying on the outside. The longshot winner excepted, the Lennox was a key race, as explained in Suedois’ profile.
Home of the Brave was more one-paced when third in the Park (G2) at Doncaster (click link for replay), the third straight race where he caught a rain-affected track. The result took on added importance in subsequent fall highlights. The victorious Aclaim went on to capture the Prix de la Foret (G1), and runner-up Nathra placed to Roly Poly in the Sun Chariot (G1) on the way to a fine fourth in the Queen Elizabeth II (G1).
Although Home of the Brave has coped with softish going, he excels on firm, and Palmer is adamant that the tight, turning track is just what he wants:
I think the mile at Del Mar, with the tight turns wilI really suit him. We just need to be lucky with our draw and he could be very dangerous on the front end of a race like that.
He ran in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last year and it was just the wrong race at the wrong time. He’s done precious little wrong this season. The ground was just a little bit loose and a bit tacky and dead at Doncaster last time. He did nothing wrong he was just beaten by a couple of horses who handled the ground better than him.
He loves that American fast ground, he’s been out there and trained on it last year and we’re really looking forward to having another go.
I’d be remiss not to mention that Godolphin’s A-lister in the Mile, Ribchester, will be quite happy to have a strong pace. Yet it’s not as if that’s Home of the Brave’s mission in this spot. Palmer’s longstanding aim to get him here is proof enough of that. The difficulty is seeing how he doesn’t get compromised with the other speed. Otherwise, he’s a classy trier who will enjoy the conditions, and he picks up Hall of Famer Mike Smith.
Photo by Jamie Newell/Horsephotos.com