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Homeracing

Beverly D. international scouting report: Lily Pond

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

August 11th, 2022

One year after Aidan O’Brien finally won his first Beverly D. (G1), the master of Ballydoyle bids to make it two in a row. But this year is noticeably different. The race conditions have changed – from 1 3/16 miles at Arlington to 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs – and his 2022 hope, Lily Pond, doesn’t have the star quality of his 2021 winner, Santa Barbara.

Lily Pond does have one trait in common with Santa Barbara, in that both were making their sixth career start in the Beverly D. Although not operating at the same level, Lily Pond likewise enters on the upswing, following a new career high in the Kilboy Estate (G2) at the Curragh.

O’Brien’s Beverly D. record

Until Santa Barbara flaunted her class, O’Brien had gone 0-for-10 in the Beverly D. at Arlington. Only one of his runners even placed, third-placer Necklace, all the way back in 2004. Fleeting was a creditable fourth in 2019, at a distance too short for her.

Wedding Vow, fifth in 2015, is arguably the nearest analog to Lily Pond. She too won the Kilboy Estate, after running unsuccessfully over further. But Wedding Vow squeezed in an extra race in between, placing second in the Nassau (G1).

Lily Pond instead comes in fresh from the Curragh, and that could help her fare better. So could the smaller field, compared to the strength in depth that Wedding Vow faced at Arlington. 

Lily Pond’s pedigree

A Coolmore homebred campaigned in partnership with Westerberg, Lily Pond is yet another blueblood by supersire Galileo. She is the first foal from classic-placed Alluringly, a listed stakes winner who was third to Enable in the 2017 Oaks (G1) at Epsom.

As a bit of trivia, Alluringly had actually been favored over Enable in their prior start in the Cheshire Oaks. But the truth of their respective abilities was quickly established. Enable beat Alluringly at Chester and went on to become a legend.

Lily Pond is bred on the well-known cross of Galileo over a Danehill-line mare, since Alluringly is a daughter of Australian champion and noted international sire Fastnet Rock. She descends from Group 3 vixen All Too Beautiful, runner-up to Ouija Board in the 2004 Epsom Oaks, and herself a full sister to Galileo.

Lily Pond’s pedigree thus sports another key angle, the Rasmussen Factor of inbreeding to a superior female. She doubles up on Urban Sea, the 1993 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) heroine and prolific broodmare whose progeny include Galileo and the great Sea the Stars.

Lily Pond’s progress

Unraced at two, Lily Pond debuted Apr. 12 over Dundalk’s Polytrack, and outperformed her 7-1 odds to win well. She tracked a better-fancied stablemate before driving 2 3/4 lengths clear, looking stronger the farther she went in the about 1 5/16-mile maiden. Although it was a pleasing introduction, the time was relatively slow, and her rivals turned out to be a pretty poor bunch.

Blue Wind (G3)

But Lily Pond proved that she could hold her own stepping up in class for the 1 1/4-mile Blue Wind (G3) at Naas. Backed into 11-4 favoritism, she again took up a forward position, attending the pace, and struck the front entering the stretch. Traveling even better, however, was Tranquil Lady, who put her away decisively and opened up by four lengths. While Lily Pond was no match for her well-regarded, and more experienced opponent, she was easily best of the rest in second. It’s possible that the yielding-to-soft going exaggerated her margin of defeat. Tranquil Lady, a half-sister to globetrotting Group 1 star State of Rest, went on to finish sixth in the Oaks at Epsom.

Munster Oaks (G3)

Lily Pond next stretched out to 1 1/2 miles in the Munster Oaks (G3) at Cork, where she finished a better-than-appears third to a pair of tough older distaffers. The 7-2 chance was perched comfortably in second until favored Thunder Kiss launched her bid, forcing Lily Pond to play her hand perhaps a tad earlier than ideal. Thunder Kiss ended up fading to sixth, but Lily Pond fought on valiantly. After grabbing a narrow lead, she was arguably outstayed late. The streaking Rosscarbery pounced to rack up her fourth in a row.

In her ensuing start, Rosscarbery was third across the wire in the Pretty Polly (G1) (later demoted for not carrying enough weight). Munster Oaks runner-up Yaxeni has since finished a game second versus males in a listed stakes at Roscommon.

Stanerra (G3)

Trying Rosscarbery again over an even longer distance in the 1 3/4-mile Stanerra (G3) at Leopardstown, Lily Pond was beaten much further in sixth. The 9-2 shot worked out her customary stalking trip, made her bid, but retreated once beyond her staying capacity. Staying far better was her stablemate Emily Dickinson, who burst through and just missed to Rosscarbery. Emily Dickinson wheeled back nine days later in the Irish Oaks (G1), finishing a solid if dour fourth, and most recently placed third in the Lillie Langtry (G2) back up to 1 3/4 miles at Glorious Goodwood.

Kilboy Estate (G2)

Lily Pond clearly needed to shorten up, and she profited by an abrupt cutback to 1 1/8 miles in the Kilboy Estate (G2) at the Curragh. Making a quick, 10-day turnaround from the Stanerra, she was overlooked at 8-1. British shipper Purplepay was all the rage as the even-money favorite, and she looked poised to win when cruising to challenge in the stretch. Lily Pond, employing her familiar tactics, was in the hunt but apparently caught for speed. Then her stamina kicked in, while Purplepay came up empty. Lily Pond asserted and held the closing Seisai (a fellow 8-1 chance) by a half-length.

The Kilboy Estate form isn’t particularly eye-catching, with Purplepay regressing to fifth. Indeed, the third-placer was the 18-1 One for Bobby, who was put in her place in sixth in the Nassau (G1) last out at Glorious Goodwood. Kilboy Estate fourth Rumbles of Thunder was previously third as the favorite, albeit versus males, in the June 25 International (G3) at the Curragh.

Lily Pond’s Beverly D. chances

As a lightly-raced filly who’s just finding her zone, Lily Pond is likely capable of better than her bare results so far. Her stalking style suggests that she’ll remain in striking range, even if the pace is a bit better here than in her Irish experience. Don’t read too much into the absence of jockey Ryan Moore; he’s required at Leopardstown on Saturday, for the eagerly-awaited return of Luxembourg in the Royal Whip (G3). Lily Pond gets a fantastic sub in John Velazquez.

There are a couple of caveats, though. The Beverly D. was historically difficult for sophomores at Arlington; only Santa Barbara and Euro Charline (2014) managed to defeat their elders. Both had competed well at the Group 1 level, while Lily Pond has yet to try the top bracket.

The other question is whether Lily Pond will be able to outkick her rivals going 1 1/8 miles at Churchill, which doesn’t pose the same stamina test as that trip at the Curragh. The fact that she looked outpaced briefly in the Kilboy Estate has to give pause as she crosses swords with sharper types here. After all, O’Brien had been running her over further for a reason, and plans call for her to go back up to 10-12 furlongs later.

“That was as tight distance-wise as she wanted to go, but she held in there,” O’Brien told irishracing.com after the Kilboy Estate.

On the plus side, Lily Pond had other options in Europe this month, and the Coolmore brain trust has chosen this spot. The Beverly D. gives her a Grade 1 opportunity before she potentially enters the deeper waters of a European Group 1. She’d need to continue her progress to win, but even a placing at Churchill would enhance her resume as a broodmare.

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