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Homeracing

Sword Dancer-bound Flintshire's the latest Euro to eye US target

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

August 6th, 2015

The Sword Dancer Invitational's (G1) purse boost to $1 million has attracted a top-flight international candidate in FLINTSHIRE (pictured on right). The Andre Fabre charge thus became the latest European to express an interest in a U.S. target.

Although a two-time Group 1 winner himself, Flintshire is perhaps best known for his series of placings at that elite level. Runner-up to Treve in both last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) and the June 28 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1) most recently, the Juddmonte homebred was also second in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) in his only previous North American venture.

The 1 1/2-mile Sword Dancer, now held on Travers Day on August 29 at Saratoga, serves as a "Win & You're In" for this year's renewal of the Breeders' Cup Turf at Keeneland.

Judging by Fabre's comments, the Spa may have come into the equation after soft ground ruled Flintshire out of the July 25 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) at Ascot.

"It was disappointing to miss the King George," Fabre said on sportinglife.com. "The plan now is to take him to Saratoga for the Sword Dancer Stakes."

Several other European connections have also been talking an American invasion, including David O'Meara of AMAZING MARIA fame, who has mentioned the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).

An exciting two-year-old who lost her way at three, Amazing Maria has undergone a total transformation since switching to O'Meara's yard this season. The Mastercraftsman filly has reeled off a three-race winning streak in top company. A 25-1 upsetter of the Duke of Cambridge (G2) at Royal Ascot, she followed up by beating Beverly D. (G1) heroine Euro Charline in the Falmouth (G1). This past Sunday, she kept up her high-flying form by toppling star French filly Ervedya in the Prix Rothschild (G1) at Deauville.

That trio of successes all came down straight mile courses. But the Filly & Mare Turf should be well within her scope this year, since it's contested over 1 3/16 miles thanks to Keeneland's configuration.

In the interim, O'Meara plans to keep Amazing Maria at a mile. The September 12 Matron (G1) at Leopardstown and the October 3 Sun Chariot (G1) at Newmarket are on her itinerary.

Last week's Glorious Goodwood meeting likewise yielded a few we could see over here this season.

Smart three-year-old DUTCH CONNECTION, second to the older Toormore in the seven-furlong Lennox (G2), is considering the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1).

"He was closing in on the winner at the line and did well to finish second. He ran a cracker," trainer Charlie Hills said. "The ground (good-to-soft) wasn't ideal for him today and I think he's more suited to a mile. We'll think about the Jacques Le Marois (G1), although the ground can be soft there, and perhaps the Breeders' Cup Mile at Keeneland."

Dutch Connection, seventh to all-conquering Gleneagles in the 2000 Guineas (G1) in his reappearance, bounced back to take the Jersey (G3) at Royal Ascot. Next time, he missed by only a half-length to Fabre's Territories in the Prix Jean Prat (G1). Since Dutch Connection had finished well behind Territories, the Guineas runner-up, at Newmarket, the Jean Prat result revealed how much he'd improved.

Sprint veteran TROPICS, a gallant fifth as the 139-pound highweight in the lucrative heritage handicap called the Stewards' Cup, has emerged as a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1).

Normally you'd imagine the Turf Sprint (G1), but as a true six-furlong horse in English conditions, Tropics may find the turning 5 1/2 furlongs around Keeneland a bit sharp. And as a Speightstown half-brother to the versatile multiple Grade 3 winner Elusive Diva, the Kentucky-bred is worth a chance on the dirt.

A great success story for owner/trainer Dean Ivory, Tropics has won four stakes, highlighted by the 2013 Bengough at Ascot, and he's finished runner-up in three majors -- last fall's British Champions Sprint (G2) to Gordon Lord Byron and Newmarket's July Cup (G1) for the past two years, the last in a heartbreaker.

MALABAR, who just thrashed sophomore males in the one-mile Thoroughbred (G3), is considering a transatlantic venture as well.

"We are thinking of going to America with her because there are a lot more opportunities out there," trainer Mick Channon said.

The daughter of Raven's Pass was snapping a five-race losing streak in the Thoroughbred, where she exploded to down such useful types as Kool Kompany and Latharnach comfortably. Fourth-placer Convey is definitely one to note for the future, as he was making only his second career start and ran up to his inexperience.

The key question for Malabar is what did the trick: was it simply the addition of a visor for the first time that woke her up? The drop in class from Group 1 company? Or was it also the return to Goodwood, the scene of her good-looking victory in the Prestige (G3) last summer?

Channon gives some insight into her record.

"She ran a cracker (when fourth) in the (1000) Guineas (G1) and she's not very big," Channon said. "She had no luck in Ireland (when eighth in the Irish 1000 Guineas [G1]) and the same in France, when she got squeezed out (en route to a ninth in the French Oaks [G1]), and these little horses can't hold their positions when bigger horses are intimidating them.

"That's why we put the visor on, not for any other reason except to make her a bit braver. I think she stuck in there today, had a great tow into the race and done it like we knew she could.

"Most of the experts thought we were crazy taking the colts on, but we had the best form except for the Godolphin horse (Latharnach), but he was rated 99 before his run in the St James's Palace Stakes and he was probably a bit flattered by that effort (second). We went into the race with, as I saw it, the best horse.

"She is small and has curled up in some of her races. She didn't in the Guineas, to be fair, and we are down to a Group 3 here, a level at which she has won already. Recently she has only run in Group 1s and been a bit unlucky in a few."

So which U.S. races might Malabar consider?

"She's in the Beverly D (G1)," Channon said on irishracing.com, "but my son is out there and says there are valuable fillies' races at Saratoga and Belmont and the American fillies aren't very good."

Speaking of the Beverly D., we've already given a sneak preview of the Europeans eyeing the August 15 Arlington International Festival of Racing. Those last seen at Glorious Goodwood include Arlington Million (G1) contenders The Corsican and Belgian Bill and Secretariat (G1) threat Highland Reel. Watch this space for more detailed analysis of them during Million week.

Top photo of Main Sequence and Flintshire courtesy of Breeders' Cup Ltd.

Right photo of Amazing Maria courtesy of Frank Sorge/Horsephotos.com.

 

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