So Mi Dar heavily favored in Prix de l’Opera, WAYI for Breeders’ Cup F&M Turf

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September 30th, 2016

But for an ill-timed injury earlier in the season, So Mi Dar would have already tested her mettle at the Group 1 level. The John Gosden filly rated as the leading challenger to Minding ahead of the Oaks (G1), only to miss Epsom and spend the summer on the sidelines, in a tantalizing “what-might-have-been.”

So Mi Dar is now back and eager to make up for lost time in Sunday’s Prix de l’Opera (G1), the race immediately preceding the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) and a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).

A daughter of Dubawi and multiple Group 1-winning highweight Dar Re Mi, So Mi Dar brings a perfect four-for-four record into Chantilly. Lord Lloyd-Webber’s homebred broke her maiden in her sole juvenile start, returned in April to beat colts (including the useful Humphrey Bogart) in the Epsom conditions race dubbed the “Derby Trial,” and slammed her rivals in the Musidora (G3) at York. Unfortunately, that was the last we saw of her for four months. Gosden found a cozy comeback spot in the September 14 John Musker Fillies’ S. at Yarmouth, and So Mi Dar came through with flying colors.

The Opera is the next logical step, and it hasn’t come up terribly tough. Proven on ground ranging from good-to-firm to soft, and with her last three wins coming around 10 furlongs, So Mi Dar promises to remain unbeaten. If she justifies odds-on favoritism, she may follow her dam’s hoofsteps and advance to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. But Dar Re Mi had tried males in the 2009 Turf (G1), finishing a commendable third to repeat winner Conduit.

Fellow three-year-old Jemayel scored her signature win in the Prix Saint-Alary (G1), and subsequently placed third to Minding in the Nassau (G1) and played second fiddle to La Cressonniere in the August 23 Prix de la Nonette (G2). Although unplaced in her two prior appearances at Chantilly, the Jean-Claude Rouget pupil can get a pass for her ring-rusty seasonal debut and especially when getting clobbered in the French Oaks (G1). You know that her Qatari-based owners, Al Shaqab Racing, would love to celebrate a big win on Arc Day.

Pleascach has an abundance of back class for Jim Bolger, but the Godolphin colorbearer has to need this race off a year-long layoff. Among the top sophomore fillies of 2015, Pleascach defeated Found in the Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) as well as Covert Love and Sea Calisi in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1). The Teofilo filly was last seen checking in fourth to Golden Horn and Found in last fall’s Irish Champion (G1), ahead of Highland Reel. If there were a realistic chance of her resuming at that level of form, Pleascach would be a terrific upset candidate. Yet she hasn’t won first-up in the past. A placing looks much likelier, making her an attractive exotics play.

Speedy Boarding, based in Newmarket with James Fanshawe, has found France a more profitable hunting ground this year. The four-year-old bested Arc runner Siljan’s Saga (and hot favorite Candarliya) in the May 29 Prix Corrida (G2), faded to last of five behind Minding in the Pretty Polly (G1) at the Curragh, and rebounded back in France in the Prix Jean Romanet (G1) last time. Sea Front (fourth) and Royal Solitaire (seventh) have work to do to overturn the Romanet form.

At least Royal Solitaire can boast a German Group 2 win and a runner-up effort versus males in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis (G1) this season. Rounding out the field is another German filly, Pagella, who comes off a distant third in the Grosser Preis von Baden (G1). The cutback in trip could help her.

John Gosden photo by Harold Roth/