Deauville, Mondialiste spearhead European team for Woodbine Mile; Hawkbill the class of Northern Dancer Turf
Saturday’s Woodbine Mile (G1) promises to have a distinctly international flavor. According to the Woodbine notes, five Europeans are expected in the “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), including 2015 Woodbine Mile winner Mondialiste and Aidan O’Brien’s Deauville. The two have crossed paths on this continent before, when Mondialiste captured the 2016 Arlington Million (G1) and then-sophomore Deauville was a commendable third.
Both sons of Galileo, Mondialiste and Deauville have become mirror images of each other, in terms of their career trajectories. While Mondialiste started out primarily as a miler, but stepped up to 1 1/4 miles last summer, Deauville was competing over the longer trip before shortening up.
That mile experiment came at the highest level in the Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot, where Deauville finished a solid third to Europe’s leading miler, Ribchester, in record time on the straight course. The strong pace at the distance brought out one of his best efforts – a career best if you go by Racing Post ratings.
Deauville has run well in defeat in his two ensuing starts going father. Although headed by Moonlight Magic in the nine-furlong Meld (G3), Deauville was carrying 138 pounds (giving him three) on good-to-yielding ground that doesn’t suit him. Favored for Million glory in his return trip to Arlington, he received a great passage and struck the front, but just got outfinished in third.
Hence the Woodbine Mile should be right in Deauville’s wheelhouse, especially with stablemate Lancaster Bomber joining him in the line-up. Lancaster Bomber has often been on pacemaker duty for Churchill, most famously when holding on for second in the St James’s Palace (G1) as that ballyhooed comrade toiled in fourth. But Deauville may ask him to go a bit faster to set it up.
If the four-year-old Deauville is still polishing his resume, the seven-year-old Mondialiste may be approaching the twilight of his racing career. Trainer David O’Meara worked wonders on the Wertheimer & Frere castoff, developing him into a successful traveler with two major North American Grade 1s on his CV. And costly traffic in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile prevented him from getting closer than a barnstorming second to Tepin.
Since last summer’s Arlington Million crown, however, Mondialiste has yet to find the winner’s circle. His best performance in his last eight starts was a fast-finishing photo loss in the July 29 York (G2), but his last appearance on the Knavesmire resulted in a laboring sixth in the Strensall (G3). That was the very race that Mondialiste won in 2015 en route to victory at Woodbine. He’ll need to be revived in North American conditions.
Speaking of rehabilitation projects, Arod is an intriguing name on the Woodbine Mile list. The Qatar Racing colorbearer was fifth in this race last year, beaten two lengths by Tepin, on ground that was likely not firm enough for him. Switched from original trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam to top Sydney horseman Chris Waller (now internationally famous for Winx), Arod did not prosper in Australia and ended up going badly off form in April.
Returned to England, Arod has taken up residence with David Simcock, and the Woodbine Mile would mark his debut for the yard. Woodbine fans should remember Simcock for turning the 2014 Mile/Northern Dancer Turf (G1) double, and the Nearctic (G2) for good measure, so he’s always worth a close look when invading. Arod requires a fast surface, and in the right conditions, he’s quite smart. You have to back a couple of years, however, to find evidence. His signature win came in the 2015 Summer Mile (G2) over fellow Qatar colorbearer (and now stablemate) Lightning Spear. Arod was also a gutsy, half-length runner-up to Solow in that year’s Sussex (G1), and a close third in the Lockinge (G1).
The talent has always been there. Indeed, the son of Teofilo was a classic contender at three, placing second to The Grey Gatsby in the Dante (G2) and fourth to Australia in the Derby (G1) at Epsom. Now the question is whether Simcock can nurture him back to that level as a six-year-old who’s spent a good chunk of the past year Down Under.
Godolphin’s Woodbine Mile candidate, Dutch Connection, hasn’t had any luck in his two previous visits to North America. His fifth in the 2015 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) can be excused on account of the unsuitably yielding ground at Keeneland. In last November’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), he got a firm course at Santa Anita, but never got involved off the torrid pace and wound up 12th of 14. The one-turn mile at Woodbine, with a more typical tempo, figures to be better for him.
Yet Dutch Connection, only sixth in the Queen Anne, must do better to reverse the form with Deauville. Although he’s occasionally run well at a mile, e.g. when second in the 2015 Prix Jean Prat (G1) and the 2016 Summer Mile, his ideal trip is seven furlongs. At that distance he won the 2014 Acomb (G3) in juvenile record time at York, the 2015 Jersey (G3) at Ascot, the 2016 Lennox (G2) and most recently the August 27 Supreme (G3) back at his beloved Goodwood.
North American-based probables, as of Monday, are Bill Mott’s Al Quoz Sprint (G1) near-misser Long on Value, who stretches back out to a mile but should thrive around the one-turn configuration; Mark Casse’s duo of multiple Grade 1 star World Approval, coming off a score in the Fourstardave (G1), and Conquest Panthera, exiting his first stakes coup in the Play the King (G2) over defending champ Glenville Gardens and Tower of Texas (last year’s Woodbine Mile runner-up to Tepin); and recent Nijinsky (G2) and Eclipse (G2) hero Dragon Bay, shortening up from a fourth in the Sky Classic (G2).
Godolphin’s invader for the 1 1/2-mile Northern Dancer Turf, Hawkbill, cuts a more formidable figure. The class of the projected small field, the Kitten’s Joy colt captured last year’s Eclipse (G1) and Tercentenary (G3) and has continued his progress on the step up in trip to 12 furlongs this season.
Hawkbill (left) wired the Princess of Wales’s (G2) during Newmarket’s July Festival, turning the tables on stablemate Frontiersman. That fellow Charlie Appleby pupil had beaten him when they rounded out the Coronation Cup (G1) trifecta behind Highland Reel.
Next seen in the August 13 Grosser Preis von Berlin (G1), Hawkbill nearly pulled off another front-running gambit. He was cut down late by Dschingis Secret, a result that was boosted when the German colt came back to defeat a classy field in Sunday’s Prix Foy (G2). Even allowing for the fact that Andre Fabre’s Cloth of Stars and Japan’s Satono Diamond were just prepping for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), Dschingis Secret posted his third straight win in style, and the son of Soldier Hollow is very much on the upswing.
Hawkbill won’t face a rival of that caliber at Woodbine. Other than Graham Motion’s hit-or-miss Messi, the rest of the likely cast is composed of locally based Noble Thought, second in his latest in the Sky Classic; sophomore Seeking Albert, fourth in the Breeders’ S., the final jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown; Camp Creek, last year’s Breeders’ S. upsetter and Northern Dancer sixth; and Johnny Bear, recent winner of the course-and-distance Halton for Canadian-breds.
No international interest is forecast for the Canadian (G2) for distaffers. The Chad Brown trio looms large, with recent Beverly D. (G1) winner Dacita and fourth Rainha Da Bateria (who capitalized on rain-softened ground to edge Dacita in last year’s Canadian) along with multiple Grade 2-placed Elysea’s World. Leading the local team is Starship Jubilee. Her dead-heat in the Dance Smartly (G2) with Rainha Da Bateria capped a five-race winning spree, halted by a fifth versus males in the Sky Classic.
International participation is muted in Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” events for the two-year-old turf set.
The lone European in the mix is Capla Temptress, a Marco Botti trainee penciled in for the Natalma (G1). Up in time for a 20-1 upset first out over Chelmsford’s Polytrack, she proved herself capable of better when rolling at Newmarket. She was then acquired by Team Valor, and in her biggest class test so far, the daughter of Lope de Vega finished third in the Sweet Solera (G3) to front-running Tajaanus.
The Natalma will probably include undefeated Bolton Landing heroine March X Press from the Todd Pletcher barn; Saratoga debut victress Golden Orb for Christophe Clement; the Casse trio of smashing debut winner Wonder Gadot, who beat stablemate Mo Big Cat over this course, and Bolton Landing sixth Sly Beauty; and Woodbine maiden winner Delamar, all competing for a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
The Summer (G2), a Challenge race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), is expected to attract Wesley Ward’s unbeaten Tyro romper Hemp Hemp Hurray; Pletcher’s El Dulce, who beat future Kentucky Downs stakes scorer Ultima D in his Saratoga unveiling and subsequently placed second in the off-the-turf Skidmore; Empirically, first-past-the-post but demoted to second at the Spa; Woodbine debut winners Count Alexander and Admiralty Pier; Casse’s recent maiden scorer Lookin to Strike and Differential, last of six in the Clarendon; and Arlington maiden runner-up Burnside.
Deauville photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese/Chelsea Durand
Hawkbill photo courtesy BHA Press Office via Twitter