Flower Bowl Stakes international scouting report: American Bridge
Although American Bridge comes to Saratoga by way of a lower-profile path – the French provinces and Italy – she enters Saturday’s Flower Bowl S. (G1) on the upswing with some sneaky collateral form.
Owned by Peter Brant, who also has My Sister Nat in the Flower Bowl, American Bridge is trained by the prolific Jean-Claude Rouget. The same owner/trainer tandem was responsible for last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) hero, Sottsass.
Brant’s White Birch Farm purchased American Bridge for €280,000 as an Arqana August yearling. Her sire, Kodiac, is chiefly an influence for speed and precocity, as evidenced by his daughter Campanelle. But Kodiac can also get major winners at longer trips, such as German and Australian champion Best Solution, whose marquee scores came over 1 1/2 miles.
American Bridge hails from the family of U.S. champion Zagora, runner-up in the 2012 Flower Bowl (at Belmont Park) before her signature victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). American Bridge’s dam, More Than Sotka, was a stakes winner in France as a juvenile.
During her two-year-old campaign in 2019, American Bridge was fifth in her first two starts on turf. She was troubled out of the gate in her Tarbes debut, and next out at Clairefontaine, she tired after setting the pace.
American Bridge showed more on the switch to Deauville’s Polytrack. Again she went to the front, but stayed on for second to Quiet Times, who won a listed stakes in her next start. American Bridge resented restraint in her sophomore reappearance at the same track, pulling with her head up in the air before fading to last.
Back on turf off a four-month freshening, and up in trip to about 1 3/16 miles, American Bridge finally broke her maiden in June 2020 at Argentan. There was no starting gate on the soft ground, and the field was sent on its way as a gaggle. She still had a tendency to race too keenly when first held up in midpack, but she settled and saved her energy to draw off by four lengths in the stretch. Graduating to allowance ranks at Chateaubriant, she reverted to frontrunning tactics but faded to sixth.
Another nearly four-month break put her back on song at Lyon La Soie last November. Anchored at the rear of the about 1 1/8-mile allowance, she rallied down the center of the all-weather track to get up by a head.
That nondescript form made her a 30-1 longshot when trying a listed stakes, the Nov. 24 Prix Petite Etoile over Deauville’s Polytrack. But American Bridge proved she belonged in that company with a staying-on fourth, beaten narrowly for second. She was just about 1 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Stylistique, who gives her collateral form with Godolphin’s dynamic duo Althiqa and Summer Romance. Stylistique subsequently placed second in a pair of Group 2s at the Dubai Carnival to Althiqa and Summer Romance, who have since run one-two in both the Just a Game (G1) and Diana (G1) this summer.
American Bridge kicked off 2021 with a romp going about 1 1/2 miles in a Cagnes-sur-Mer Polytrack allowance. She bided her time near the back, advanced into the stretch, and readily pulled clear.
Returning to the listed level over the same track, American Bridge tried males in the Feb. 14 Grand Prix de la Riviera Cote d’Azur – Jacques Bouchara, and she took a step forward. Despite a poor start that left her further behind in the about 1 1/4-mile affair, she worked her way into contention and finished second to better-fancied stablemate Fantastic Spirit. The Rouget duo beat favored Kenway, a useful yardstick, and the fifth-placer, Monty, has since placed in the Prix d’Harcourt (G2) and just missed in the Aug. 15 Prix Gontaut-Biron (G3).
American Bridge didn’t fare as well back on good-to-soft turf in the May 23 Prix Urban Sea, but her fifth-place effort was a little better than it looks on paper. Fanned out extremely wide leaving the far turn at Le Lion D’Angers, she was in contention before flattening behind a few solid listed types.
A trip to Milan for the June 27 Premio del Giubileo (G3) produced a new career high, thanks to a robust pace on good going. Gaining momentum down the center of the course, American Bridge was strongest at the end of 1 1/4 miles to win comfortably in 1:58.20.
The runner-up, German shipper No Limit Credit, was favored off her third to the high-class fillies Ebaiyra and Raabihah in the Prix Corrida (G2) at Saint-Cloud. After her Milan venture, No Limit Credit collected another major placing when third to the outstanding gelding Skalleti in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis (G1).
Rouget noted how the conditions brought out the best in American Bridge (postrace comments to Jour de Galop, as shared by Tally-Ho Stud):
The filly deserved to win a race of this level. In France, she can't really express herself as she often runs into races without pace and on ground that is much too soft for her. Today's well-run race helped her a lot and we could see what she is capable of.
While American Bridge will get her optimal ground at Saratoga, the pace scenario is a muddle, to put it charitably. Might Irad Ortiz Jr. opt to go forward with her, as he did aboard Tamahere, the eventual fourth in last Saturday’s Ballston Spa (G2)? After all, American Bridge exhibited free-running tendencies early in her career, and there’s no doubt about her stamina.
In any event, American Bridge is eligible to factor at 12-1 on the morning line, even if just boosting the exotics beneath War Like Goddess.