Deep cast of 11 juvenile fillies set for Prix Marcel Boussac

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September 30th, 2016

Arc Day opens with a bang in the form of the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1), a one-mile event for juvenile fillies that’s attracted some very smart prospects among the cast of 11. If the winner takes up the “Win and You’re In” offer for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), she’d bring a rich vein of form with her to Santa Anita.

The Marcel Boussac pits such established stakes fillies as Martin Schwartz’s new recruit Cavale Doree, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Promise To Be True, and Frankel’s unbeaten daughter Toulifaut versus exciting stakes debutantes Senga, First of Spring, Dabyah, and Wuheida.

Anytime Schwartz takes the plunge on a private purchase, it’s worth noting, and Cavale Doree is no exception. In her provincial debut for trainer Christophe Ferland, she got going too late and lunged at the line, inhaling Celanova just after the wire. Celanova provides a key collateral formline: she’d been a close third to Alrahma, the subsequent winner of the Prix de Cabourg (G3) and runner-up to Lady Aurelia in the Prix Morny (G1).

Cavale Doree learned from that narrow loss and spread-eagled the field next time at Deauville. Stepping up from six to seven furlongs in the Prix du Calvados (G3), she stayed on relentlessly from the rear to prevail. Schwartz then swooped in to acquire the daughter of Sunday Break, whose pedigree and performances both suggest she’ll handle the added ground of the Boussac’s mile.

Through Calvados runner-up Asidious Alexander, her form ties in neatly with Boussac rival Toulifaut, and through third-placer Baileys Showgirl, it stacks up with Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) contender Kontrastat. 

The burning question is whether that French form can stand up to the Irish form embodied in Promise To Be True. A debut winner for O’Brien, the full sister to champion Maybe delivered another powerful closing kick to take the Silver Flash (G3). That propelled her into even-money favoritism for the Moyglare Stud (G1), but she never landed a blow on a day that proved tough for closers. It’s significant that O’Brien relies solely on her here, when he had several in the mix. Promise To Be True will try to give O’Brien his third straight Boussac trophy, after Found (2014) and Ballydoyle (2015).   

The unbeaten duo of Toulifaut and First of Spring give trainer Jean-Claude Rouget a strong one-two punch. Toulifaut remained unbeaten from three starts when landing the course-and-distance prep, the Prix d’Aumale (G3), over Normandel, but she may have a tactical quandary from post 11. She hasn’t appeared the most effortless traveler in her races so far. The other concern is her profile as a longer-term prospect. As a half-sister to Ernest Hemingway, out of Cassydora, Toulifaut figures to come into her own next year, or beyond. She may bump into one or two more developed types here. Toulifaut will go through the Arqana auction ring Saturday evening, and may have new ownership for the Boussac. [See the update about her selling for an Arqana Arc Sale record of €1.9 million.]

Christophe Soumillon, who rode Toufilaut in her first two wins, is instead aboard stablemate First of Spring. Although yet to be tried beyond six furlongs, the daughter of Galileo and Homecoming Queen is bred to go farther, and she’s run like it when easily justifying favoritism in both of her outings. The Joseph Allen homebred jumps up into stakes company for the first time.

So does the Niarchos Family’s homebred Senga, who ran well enough on debut to win most maidens, only to get run down by a potentially smart customer in La Cochere. Pitched in versus the boys going a mile at Saint-Cloud, Senga readily toppled the odds-on Frankel colt Last Kingdom. The Pascal Bary trainee rates a pedigree play too. Her grandam, Denebola, captured the 2003 Boussac during her championship campaign, and this is the further family of Machiavellian, Bago, etc.

For whatever it’s worth, Bary had two Boussac entrants. But he ended up taking Thais out and adding her to the Jean-Luc Lagardere. A superficial view would read that as a vote of confidence in Thais, but considering the lack of depth among the boys, I’d argue that it takes a better filly to confront the challenge of the Boussac. If so, Senga is a stronger contender than meets the eye.

Adding to the welter of competing formlines are British raiders Dabyah and Wuheida. Dabyah has looked a budding star for John Gosden, following a measured debut success at Newmarket with a nine-length rout at Newbury. Both came over seven furlongs, and from afar on video, she appears to have the blocky build of her speedy sire, Sepoy. There’s plenty enough stamina on her dam’s side, but her physique makes me wonder if she’s inherited those genes. Gosden had the option of the Fillies’ Mile (G1) over a stiffer course at Newmarket. Might the preference for Chantilly suggest a stamina question? And in that light, post 10 may be a complication for the pace factor.

Godolphin’s Wuheida will love as much distance as she can get, being by Dubawi out of the Grade/Group 1-winning Singspiel mare Hibaayeb. Keeping on relentlessly in her Newmarket unveiling, the Charlie Appleby filly beat a very good next-out winner in Spatial. Wuheida faces a question similar to Toulifaut: is she more about the future than about Sunday? In Wuheida’s case, it’s a tougher ask to go into a hot Group 1 second time out. Whatever she does here is a bonus going forward.

The remaining two entrants have competed in stakes versus the boys, but would need to improve to upend the principals. Elegant Bere was third versus the boys in a restricted stakes at Deauville, and Body Sculpt was fourth to the aforementioned Kontrastat in the Prix La Rochette (G3).

Martin Schwartz photo courtesy/copyright Breeders' Cup Ltd.