Birdie Gold (Photo courtesy of Gary Mandella @MandellaGary)
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf International Horse Profile: Birdie Gold
by Kellie Reilly
Although Birdie Gold comes to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) by way of Peru’s “Win & You’re In” – the June 25 Clasico Pamplona (G1) – the Kentucky-bred three-year-old has the potential to be better than her resume implies.
She’s by Birdstone and out of Gold Revenue, a Touch Gold half-sister to 2007 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Ginger Punch. That Eclipse Award champion is herself the dam of classy Japanese mare Rouge Buck, who just beat males again in the September 24 Sankei Sho All Comers (G2).
After RNA’ing for $22,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling, Birdie Gold was exported to Peru and joined perennial leading trainer Juan Suarez Villarroel.
As a Northern Hemisphere-bred who celebrated her actual third birthday March 3, the chestnut was constantly facing older horses in her new home. She received weight breaks as a consequence, but the point remains that she was playing catch-up on the developmental curve. It speaks to her natural ability that she compiled a 5-4-1-0 record at Monterrico, graduating from a maiden to Group 1 winner in the span of 3 1/2 months.
Birdie Gold began her career sprinting on dirt. Debuting in a 1200-meter (about six-furlong) maiden March 4, she stalked and pounced to an 8 3/4-length romp. She had to work a little harder next time in a 1300-meter conditions race, but stayed on well to win going away by two. Stepping up to a metric mile, still on dirt, for her third start, Birdie Gold found herself in a real dogfight for the first time. Yet she displayed a likeable attitude, rallying down on the inside to get the head-bob.
Then Birdie Gold had lots thrown at her fourth time out – stretching out to about 1 1/4 miles, switching to turf, and taking a sizeable class hike into listed stakes company for the May 20 Clasico Republica Argentina. She also found herself in an unfamiliar tactical position near the rear. Despite being briefly outpaced turning into the stretch, she made a sharp move to dive inside for room. She was ultimately outkicked by Soy Realidad, but held onto the runner-up spot narrowly.
The experience served her well, for over the same course and distance in the Clasico Pamplona, Birdie Gold emphatically turned the tables. This was clearly a case of progression, since the weight concession from Soy Realidad was the same (eight pounds). Birdie Gold carved out a ground-saving trip, punched through to get first run on Soy Realidad, and stamped her authority in hand.
From a form perspective, Birdie Gold has plenty to find to threaten in the Breeders’ Cup. Soy Realidad had previously finished fourth in a Group 1 for three-year-olds to Paso Real and Smart Choice, both Suarez trainees who were drubbed in the Gran Premio Latinoamericano (G1) by Sixties Song. (Smart Choice also competed in the Pamplona, checking in fourth to Birdie Gold.)
Another form tie-in comes through the Pamplona third, Chicuela, who filled that same spot in last year’s running. The 2016 Pamplona winner, Ryans Charm, went on to finish a creditable sixth in the Filly & Mare Turf, beating half the field at Santa Anita.
While out of the placings, Ryans Charm exceeded expectations as a 51-1 longshot in by far the biggest class test of her life. Birdie Gold would do well to match that performance at Del Mar. On the plus side, she has the advantage of being unexposed. According to PeruHipico.net, Suarez believes that the lightly-raced filly has plenty of scope to progress – a logical view particularly given her pedigree. Suarez goes much further though, describing her as having “todas las características de una verdadera campeona” – all the characteristics of a true champion.
With Suarez determined to ship her north as quickly as practicable, Birdie Gold arrived in the United States in July. For new trainer Gary Mandella, she’s been a regular on the Santa Anita worktab since September 9. Her series of dirt works culminated October 16 in a good five-furlong drill in 1:00.40 (equaling Gun Runner’s time as the second-fastest that day), and she got in a stamina-building mile on the turf (around the “dogs”) in 1:41.20 October 22.
Birdie Gold’s profile as a willing improver, and her versatility regarding both trip and surface, make her an intriguing addition to the Southern California circuit. If the Breeders’ Cup appears daunting at this stage, she’s eligible to build her resume over the longer term.