Five Takeaways from September 12-13 Weekend
Treve Revved: Excited to see Treve seek a record third straight Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) on October 4 following her demolition of Sunday’s Prix Vermeille (G1) at Longchamp. Conditoned by Criquette Head-Maarek and ridden by Thierry Jarnet, Treve dominated the 2013 Arc as an unbeaten 3yo, defeating males and elders for the first time as the second choice in the wagering. However, she endured a tough campaign prior to the 2014 title defense, dropping all three starts beforehand, including a fourth in the Prix Vermeille that drove punters away. Treve rebounded at 14-1 odds in last year’s Arc, scoring by two easy lengths, and the 5yo mare appears in career-best form presently, improving her mark to 3-for-3 this season.
Derby/Oaks Trails Begin: Cocked and Loaded accelerated to a clear lead rounding the far turn and was able to survive the final furlongs in a slowly run Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs, winning the first scoring race in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series and earning a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in the “Win and You’re In” event. A son of Colonel John, the Larry Rivelli-trained registered a career-best 94 BRIS Speed rating but garnered only a 78 Late Pace number after completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.94, more than a second slower than the older mare Frivolous, who rallied behind slower opening splits to win the Locust Grove in 1:43.85 a race later. Cocked and Loaded captured the 5f Tremont at Belmont Park in June and can’t get excited about his potential at longer distances. Dothraki Queen opened her career with a seven-length romp on Ellis Park’s turf and improved to 2-for-2 with a strong late run in the Pocahontas (G2). The race was opposite from the Iroquois, with glacial opening splits that were three seconds slower for the half-mile and three-quarters, and Dothraki Queen, a Kenny McPeek-trained daughter of Pure Prize, earned a 106 Late Pace rating after stopping the teletimer in a respectable 1:45.80.
Trip Horse: If he comes back three weeks later in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, Unbridled Outlaw figures to receive plenty of support following a troubled Iroquois trip. The most egregious offense occurred entering the far turn, with jockey Corey Lanerie taking an extreme hold to avoid being sawed off. After wrestling his mount toward the rear of the pack, Lanerie wound up in another tight spot, forcing Unbridled Outlaw to check again nearing the conclusion of the far turn. “He was much the best, much the best, it was a bad ride,” the rider admitted. Unbridled Outlaw rallied boldly after entering the stretch, belatedly passing more than half the field as he charged up the rail to finish three lengths short of the winner in third. He’s eligible to run better next time, but troubled trips don’t always result in vastly improved performances.
Taking note of Woodbine Mile also-rans: Sunday’s Woodbine Mile (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), went to Mondialiste, who emerged late to deny 2-1 favorite Lea by a half-length in his North American debut. Kudos for the win on the massive Woodbine turf course but as my colleague, international observer Kellie Reilly points out, the English-based Mondialiste may not find the tighter course at Keeneland as hospitable. Lea recorded a bang-up second in his first turf start since August 2013 and the multiple Grade 1 winner merits serious respect next time for Bill Mott. Third-placer Obviously also joins the short list of American-based horses who look capable of challenging at Keeneland. Making his first start since a fifth in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile, the classy gelding went too fast early on the soft turf but Obviously dug in gamely when challenged, and trainer Phil d’Amato had to come away thrilled with the tightener.
Turf performers: Sentiero Italia continued to impress romping in Saturday’s Sands Point (G2) at Belmont Park, confirming herself as the favorite in the October 10 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland. The improving daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has won four of her last five for Kiaran McLaughlin, the lone setback coming in her stakes bow, a dead-heat fourth behind the sidelined Lady Eli in the July 4 Belmont Oaks (G1). Mark Casse padded his hand for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and Juvenile Turf Fillies (G1) in a pair of “Win and You’re In” races at Woodbine, capturing the Summer (G2) with Conquest Daddyo and Natalma (G2) with Catch a Glimpse. Conquest Daddyo, a July 26 debut winner and a close second in the August 15 Vandal, both at six furlongs on Polytrack, rallied to win going away despite being overlooked at 15-1 in his third career outing and Casse remains very keen on Conquest Enforcer, who was bet down to 7-2 in the Summer and finished fourth in his career debut. Catch a Glimpse made short work of her nine foes on the front end, leading wire to wire for a five-length decision, and is now 2-for-2 on turf after easily breaking her maiden over allowance rivals on August 22. She’s by City Zip, sire of 2014 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) winner Dayatthespa.