Golden Sabre brutally unlucky in Sky Classic
After suffering traffic trouble en route to a half-length second in the July 19 Nijinsky (G2), Sam-Son Farm's homebred Golden Sabre endured an even tougher beat in Sunday's Sky Classic (G2). While it's arguable whether he would have defeated Are You Kidding Me last time, he rated as a very unlucky loser to Interpol today.
The Malcolm Pierce trainee was strung up in the pocket, sitting on hold, as the 21-1 longest shot on the board Interpol surged ahead on the outside. When Golden Sabre finally got running room between foes, he finished strongly to miss by a diminishing neck. Are You Kidding Me was a nose away in third.
To use the old truism, it was a tale of two trips. Interpol enjoyed a perfect stalking trip courtesy of Emma-Jayne Wilson. She picked up the mount after Jesse Campbell had to recuperate over the weekend from a Friday spill. Indeed, as trainer Sid Attard said in the post-race interview, "She win the race."
Interpol negotiated 1 1/4 miles on the firm turf in 2:01.05 to earn his first stakes victory on this Breeders' Stakes card. It was a fitting day for his accomplishment, since he'd finished second in the 2014 Breeders' Stakes. The Ontario-bred continued the great weekend for his sire, English Channel, who's also responsible for Arlington Million (G1) hero The Pizza Man.
There was another connection to Arlington's International Festival of Racing. Interpol, only fifth in the 1 1/8-mile Nijinsky, benefited from the step up in trip here. Similarly, German shipper Lucky Speed, fourth in the Nijinsky, took a leap forward over 1 11/16 miles when victorious in Saturday's American St Leger (G3).
I'm inclined to think that the added ground helped Golden Sabre as well. By Medaglia d'Oro, he's out of the Grade 2-winning Smart Strike mare Strike Softly, from the family of Canadian champion Wilderness Song. The lightly raced five-year-old was making just his 11th start here, and there should be plenty more to come. All he needs is a clean trip.
Conversely, the distance probably stretched Are You Kidding Me. In the circumstances, he ran a fine race in defeat, especially as the 123-pound co-highweight. He was again conceding six pounds to Golden Sabre. Over 1 1/8 miles in the Nijinsky, Are You Kidding Me kept finding more to hold off Golden Sabre. That's not to minimize Golden Sabre's eventful (not to say woeful) passage that day, but it is to note that the winner might have been a tough nut to crack in any event. Are You Kidding Me figures to cut back in trip now, possibly for the September 13 Woodbine Mile (G1).
The other co-highweight, Mr Speaker, was a lackluster fourth as the 8-5 favorite. The Phipps homebred has lost his way since his stunning upset of last summer's Belmont Derby Invitational (G1). I'd hoped that his recent Belmont allowance win signified a rehabilitation. Unfortunately, Mr Speaker couldn't capitalize on a ground-saving trip behind tepid splits. To be fair, he too maneuvered for a clear path in the lane, but unlike Golden Sabre, he didn't exactly roll home late. It was more of a workmanlike, mild finish, begging the question, whither Mr Speaker? Does he need 1 1/2 miles now?
Interpol photo courtesy of WEG/Michael Burns Photography.