George Vancouver wins the 2012 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
By Bunny Hinzman
European 2-year-olds dominated both the Juvenile Turf and the Juvenile Fillies Turf against American opposition last year and have a reasonable chance to duplicate the same results this year. In 2012, rider Christophe Lemaire got his first Breeders’ Cup win aboard Flotilla in the Juvenile Fillies Turf while the team of Coolmore Stud, Aidan O’Brien, and Ryan Moore got their second consecutive Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf victory with George Vancouver. This year, eight promising European juveniles travel stateside in an attempt to take top honors in a $1 million Breeders’ Cup race.
Giovanni Boldini should be the first of Coolmore’s War Front duo to run on the Breeders’ Cup card in the Juvenile Turf. Though bred in the United States, he represents the Irish Ballydoyle training empire. Giovanni Boldini should be a favorite for his Breeders’ Cup race. Out of three starts, he has won twice and finished third on one occasion. Both his wins came on Dundalk’s all-weather surface by a combined margin of 6 ½ lengths. His lone loss was in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, a Group 1 race in which he finished third, four lengths behind the victorious Toormore.
Another Coolmore hopeful, Wilshire Boulevard, is by far the most experienced colt in the Juvenile Turf. Out of his seven starts, he has won twice and was runner-up on two occasions. He began his career in May but got his first win in June on soft turf. Wilshire Boulevard was then 10th in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot but only three lengths behind the victorious Extortionist. Next time out, he Wilshire Boulevard returned to Ireland for the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes on good to firm ground. He won this about 6 ½-furlong race by three-quarters of a length. Wilshire Boulevard’s subsequently raced in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York Racecourse when Ryan Moore got aboard for the first time. On soft ground, he finished second to Astaire by a neck. The son of Holy Roman Emperor enters the Breeders’ Cup off a fourth-place effort in the seven-furlong, Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. The Longchamp turf was rated as soft for this race where he was 2 ½ lengths short of the winner, Karakontie.
Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al Thani has won races on a global stage with his colorbearers. Here, he attempts to win one of America’s biggest races with Shamshon. The Invincible Spirit colt has started three times and won two outings. Shamshon’s only loss was a fifth-place in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes on soft ground and his two wins came on good or good-to-firm footing. He has never been tested beyond six furlongs, which is a concern for his chances in the one-mile Juvenile Turf.
Carrying the Godolphin blue silks, Outstrip is one of the four European invaders in the Juvenile Turf. He won at first asking in June but then was second to Toormore in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes. Outstrip rebounded to win the Group 2 Champagne Stakes with a 3-length score. He then offered a formidable third in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes when finishing 2 ¾ lengths behind the exceptional War Command.
Juvenile Fillies’ Turf
Al Thakhira aspires to bring her perfect record to three wins in as many starts in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Running in the colors of Sheikh Joaan and representing trainer Marco Botti, she has been the convincing victress of both her races thus far. She made her career debut in mid-September at Yarmouth and won by 2 ¾ lengths. Al Thakhira entered her second start on the Future Champions Day card at Newmarket. In the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes, she won the seven-furlong race by 3 ¼ lengths over Blockade. Considering Santa Anita’s asphalt-hard turf, one concern is that she has won on only soft or good-to-soft ground.
Chriselliam has formed a solid 5-race résumé consisting of two wins and a runner-up performance. She finished ninth in her career debut in late-May but won her next start in July by 2 ½ lengths at an unseasonably long distance of seven furlongs. In August, Chriselliam stepped up to Group 3 company in the Prix du Calvados on Deaville’s good-to-firm turf and could only finish ninth. However, she improved in her next start to finish second, beaten by a neck, in the Ascendant Stakes. In her last start before the Breeders’ Cup, her connections pitted her against a Group 1 field in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket. She won the top-class race by a length over Rizeena.
Flying Jib represents owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms and trainer Dermot Weld in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. She comes in with an eye-catching record of two wins out of three starts. On Dundalk’s all-weather track, she broke her maiden in her second start. Flying Jib won her next race by 1 ½ lengths at the Curragh on turf rated as good. One may question her chances in the Grade 1 Juvenile Fillies Turf since the toughest competition she has faced came in a listed stakes.
France has a good chance of winning the Juvenile Fillies Turf for a second consecutive year with Vorda. Out of her five starts, she has won four times and finished second once to No Nay Never in the Group 1 Prix Morny when she was defeated by a length when facing males. Vorda won her first three races, including a Group 2 victory in France against males, before she placed in the Prix Morny. Vorda regained her winning form in Newmarket’s Cheveley Park Stakes, defeating Princess Noor by three-quarters of a length in the Group 1 race. Despite the mild concern of never having started beyond six furlongs, this is a top-class filly who should not go unheeded by the betting public.