Irish Champions weekend: Moyglare Stud is "Win & You're In" for BC Juvenile Fillies Turf
Picking up where we left off from Saturday's preview, here's the second half of Irish Champions weekend.
The 1ST race (9:00 a.m. EDT) is a six-furlong handicap.
The Blandford (G2) (9:35 a.m. EDT) marks the belated reappearance of Tapestry, who famously upset Taghrooda in last year's Yorkshire Oaks (G1). The Aidan O'Brien filly has been out of action since finishing 13th in the Arc. Although resurfacing from a nearly year-long layoff, Tapestry has run most of her best races here. Indeed, she's unlucky not to be unbeaten at the Curragh. The winner of her first two starts at this time-honored course, she encountered trouble when placing in the 2013 Moyglare Stud and had her saddle slip when missing by a neck in last summer's Irish Oaks (G1). Carla Bianca hopes to rebound off a subpar sixth in the Beverly D. (G1), where Arlington's rain-softened ground appeared to go against her. Ribbons scored her signature win in the 2014 Prix Jean Romanet (G1) in a bog at Deauville. She was a fantastic third in the Pretty Polly (G1) over this course and 1 1/4-mile distance, and a return to that formline would make her tough here. Lady Tiana exits her biggest win in the 1 1/2-mile Lancashire Oaks (G2), prompting concerns about whether she'll be as effective on the cutback in trip against this field. Several sophomores are challenging the older distaffers, including French raider Kataniya, whose decision-trading with Sea Calisi looks even better after the latter was a close third in the Yorkshire Oaks; last-out Dance Design (G3) romper Bocca Baciata; and Lady of Dubai, who had a forgettable August, but whose honorable third in the Oaks (G1) makes her a player.
The Flying Five (G2) (10:05 a.m. EDT), as its name implies, is a five-furlong dash. The old warhorse Sole Power seems to have lost a step since capturing the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) back on Dubai World Cup night, and the rain won't help this firm-turf lover. Fellow Eddie Lynam trainee Moviesta, who just collared Toscanini in the Renaissance (G3); Hot Streak, making his second start for new trainer Robert Cowell; defending champion Stepper Point; the respective top two from the Beverly Bullet, Maarek and Line of Reason; and such mainstays as Pearl Secret and Take Cover are all live chances in this inscrutable heat.
The Moyglare Stud (G1) (10:40 a.m. EDT) is all about Ballydoyle, at least as far as the betting market goes. Her full sister Misty for Me won this race in 2010, and Ballydoyle brings a high standard of form. Picking up a fraction too late to break her maiden versus the boys in Royal Ascot's Chesham, the O'Brien filly has dominated a Newmarket maiden (beating Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies-bound Nemoralia) and the Debutante (G2) over this course and seven-furlong trip. The depth of that race was underscored when Debutante fourth Turret Rocks came back to take Friday's May Hill (G2) at Doncaster. But these top-level events are not one-horse races. For Tanaza brings a remarkably similar formline to Ballydoyle: like the favorite, she's defeated Ballydoyle's stablemates Minding and Alice Springs, as well as the aforementioned Turret Rocks. Trained by Weld, the Aga Khan homebred is two-for-two following a score in the Silver Flash (G3). Blue Bayou, highly regarded by trainer Brian Meehan, has top-notch British form in the book. Third in a three-way photo with unbeaten Iluminate and the high-class Besharah in the Duchess of Cambridge (G2), Blue Bayou took the next step forward in the Sweet Solera (G3). Now or Never was second against males in the Curragh's Futurity (G2), while Great Page has mixed it up in salty company for Richard Hannon.
The National (G1) (11:15 a.m. EDT), also held over seven furlongs for juveniles, pits Coolmore's Air Force Blue versus Godolphin's Herald the Dawn, and their respective allies from those camps. Air Force Blue, whose only loss was a second in the Coventry (G2) at Royal Ascot, was a commanding winner of the Phoenix (G1) in his latest. The step up to seven furlongs is a new challenge for him. Conversely, Herald the Dawn has won both of his races at this trip, including a victory over Moyglare runner Now or Never in the Futurity. The Jim Bolger trainee seeks to emulate sire New Approach and full brother Dawn Approach, who each won this race during their respective championship campaigns. O'Brien is triple-handed, with Air Force Blue joined by Railway (G2) star Painted Cliffs, who adds blinkers after his lackluster fourth in the Phoenix, and Air Vice Marshal, second in the Superlative (G2) to Birchwood. Another Godolphin runner, Birchwood was most recently fifth in the Vintage (G2) on softish going at Glorious Goodwood, and the Richard Fahey colt would prefer better ground. If you're rooting for someone to knock off the rival empires, there's Jessica Harrington's unbeaten Final Frontier, victorious in the Anglesey (G3).
The Irish St Leger (G1) (11:50 a.m. EDT), unlike its Doncaster inspiration, is open to older horses. The lone sophomore in the 1 3/4-mile contest is Order of St George, who swerved the English classic on Saturday in search of presumably softer ground. The O'Brien colt ran away with the Irish St Leger Trial (G3), thrashing Sea Moon and Kingfisher. Of course, Sea Moon was having his first start back since his stint in Australia that ended late last year, and Kingfisher, the unlucky Ascot Gold Cup (G1) runner-up, probably wasn't fully cranked for the prep. But this cast goes even deeper. Meehan's Agent Murphy stamped himself as a rising star in the Geoffrey Freer (G3). Defending champion Brown Panther is returning from injury, but remains a top threat, recalling his sensational Dubai Gold Cup (G3) win on World Cup night and his fine second to Snow Sky in the Yorkshire Cup (G2). Weld's Forgotten Rules, hero of last year's British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2), will likely get his preferred easy ground here. Sir Michael Stoute's talented Gospel Choir won the 2014 Yorkshire Cup in his only prior try at this trip, while Second Step stretches out after garnering the Grosser Preis von Berlin (G1), Wicklow Brave exits a second in the Ebor, and Vent de Force fits if on his game.
The 7TH race (12:25 p.m. EDT) is a Tattersalls Ireland sales race, and the 8TH race (12:55 p.m. EDT) is a 1 1/4-mile handicap.