Mondialiste, Mr. Owen in line for Woodbine Mile
According to the Woodbine notes, two Europeans are listed as likely for the September 13 Woodbine Mile (G1) -- five-year-old Mondialiste and three-year-old Mr. Owen.
Mondialiste was originally campaigned by his breeders, Wertheimer et Frere, and trained by Freddie Head. Although third in the 2013 Prix Jean Prat (G1) while still a maiden, the blueblood didn't progress from there and was sold at last summer's Arqana July for $259,464.
His new owners transferred him to David O'Meara, who is emerging as a wonder worker with once-promising types fallen on hard times. The best advertisement of his skill this season is Amazing Maria, currently riding a three-race winning streak comprising the Duke of Cambridge (G2), Falmouth (G1) and Prix Rothschild (G1).
Mondialiste hasn't reached that level of turnaround just yet, but he too is in the form of his life for his new trainer. Reappearing in the March 28 Lincoln, a heritage handicap that traditionally marks the beginning of the British Flat racing season, he came within a neck of springing a 25-1 upset. Mondialiste then stepped up in class for the Earl of Sefton (G3), finishing third, and filled that same spot in the Paradise at Ascot. After a midfield result (14th of 30) under 135 pounds in another big handicap, the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot (where he raced on the "wrong," i.e. unfavorable, side), he's been a different animal.
Back up to listed stakes company in the July 26 Pomfret Castle, Mondialiste slammed them by 10 front-running lengths. He took his next class test in stride in the August 22 Strensall (G3) at York, mowing down the useful Mutakayyef and leaving Godolphin's progressive Basem back in third, with the Group 3 veteran Top Notch Tonto fourth. Click the link for the Strensall replay.
Mondialiste is finally living up to his superb pedigree, as a three-quarter brother to French Derby (G1) hero Intello. Both are by Galileo, and Mondialiste is himself a half to Intello's dam, Group 2 winner and classic-placed Impressionante. Mondialiste is also a full brother to Group 3-placed stakes victor Planetaire and a half to multiple Group 3-winning sprinter Only Answer. They're all out of multiple Group 1 star Occupandiste, a descendant of Broodmare of the Year Fall Aspen.
The sophomore Mr. Owen has a maternal connection to Woodbine: his dam, Mrs. Lindsay, also invaded from France and plundered the 2007 E.P. Taylor (G1) in a course-record 2:00.68 for 1 1/4 miles. Like his dam, who had captured the Prix Vermeille (G1) in her prior start, Mr. Owen is trained by Francois Rohaut.
Unraced as a juvenile, Mr. Owen won twice early this year before trying the French 2000 Guineas (G1), finishing a creditable third. Runner-up New Bay has since flattered the form by taking both the French Derby and Prix Guillaume d'Ornano (G2).
That French Guineas effort caught the eye of Qatar Racing Ltd., and Mr. Owen was purchased privately. In his debut in the new silks, he threw in the worst race of his life when tiring to sixth in the July 12 Prix Jean Prat. But that race had an unusual dynamic -- a surprisingly cut-throat early pace -- that Mr. Owen paid the price for chasing. Rohaut also commented that the ground had been overwatered as well. Note that fourth-placer Kodi Bear has since bounced back to dismiss older foes handily in both the Sovereign (G3) and the Celebration Mile (G2).
Mr. Owen was under consideration for the Secretariat (G1) before connections opted to lower his sights for the August 4 Prix de Tourgeville at Deauville. He responded by rolling from near the back of the pack to earn his first stakes victory.
The form was boosted when the fourth, Taniyar, returned to post a very smooth success in Sunday's Prix du Pin (G3), booking his ticket to the Prix de la Foret (G1) on Arc Day.
Qatar Racing, which won last year's Woodbine Mile with the old warrior Trade Storm, had two other prime prospects for next Sunday's renewal -- Arod and Lightning Spear. But they've been earmarked for other targets, with Arod likely bound for the Prix du Moulin (G1) en route to Australia's prestigious Cox Plate (G1), and Lightning Spear set for Saturday's Boomerang (G2) at Leopardstown on Irish Champions weekend. While Arod's plans stand on their own merit, it's tempting to read between the lines on Lightning Spear's assignment: as a vote of confidence from the Qatar Racing brain trust that Mr. Owen can take care of business at Woodbine.