The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) has gone to Europe seven times in its 11-year history, and the renewal on “Future Stars Friday” may well add to the tally. Arguably the premier domestic hope, Fog of War, is sidelined, while the international team offers strength in depth.
ANTHONY VAN DYCK: Trainer Aidan O’Brien relies on a single runner to give him his fifth Juvenile Turf trophy, and on form, Anthony Van Dyck is entitled to accomplish his mission. But his poor draw – widest of all in post 14 going a mile – could make his gaudy formlines less relevant. So could soft going.
The 4-1 morning-line favorite, Anthony Van Dyck is a Galileo half-brother to New Zealand champion sprinter Bounding. Following a typically educational debut he won three straight, and for a time propelled himself into antepost Derby (G1) favoritism.
Storming from just off the pace to romp over a mile at Killarney, Anthony Van Dyck was equally impressive when reverting to seven furlongs in the Tyros (G3) at Leopardstown, both left-handed circuits. He had to work harder to reel in stablemate Christmas in the Futurity (G2) on yielding ground at the Curragh. Behind them were a couple of eventual stakes winners in Mohawk (Royal Lodge [G2]) and Guaranteed (Eyrefield [G3]).
Hat-trick landed for next year’s Derby favourite – Anthony Van Dyck gets up in the Group 2 Galileo @IrishEBF_ Futurity Stakes for Ryan Moore at @curraghrace. 1-2-3 for @Ballydoyle… pic.twitter.com/OIlym9dlGS— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) August 26, 2018
Note that Ryan Moore believed the rain-affected track played a role in his more workmanlike performance. Back over the same course and distance for the Vincent O’Brien (G1), on good-to-yielding, he crossed swords with Godolphin’s well-regarded Quorto and came out second-best. Anthony Van Dyck didn’t travel as easily as the winner, and finding himself outkicked, nevertheless fought mightily to hang with him. Whether it was the ground, or possibly looking for more than seven furlongs, he could not match Quorto.
O’Brien kept Anthony Van Dyck at seven furlongs for the Dewhurst (G1) on good-to-firm at Newmarket, where he was outpaced again and wound up third. No disgrace to lack the finishing speed of the dazzling British two-year-old Too Darn Hot, the early 2000 Guineas (G1) favorite who’s supplanted Anthony at the head of the Derby market. Anthony Van Dyck couldn’t fend off runner-up Advertise either, but he’s the Phoenix (G1) winner with a rich vein of form himself.
Now his hoped-for step up in trip has come. But he’ll need to be a few lengths the best to offset likely ground loss while coping with a slower surface.
LINE OF DUTY: The Godolphin hopeful’s stock has risen after drawing post 5. At 10-1 on the morning line, Line of Duty rates as the value play, although his odds figure to contract.
Trainer Charlie Appleby denied O’Brien’s Giovanni Boldini with Outstrip in the 2013 edition at Santa Anita, and he might have gone close again last year if Masar’s rider didn’t lose an iron at Del Mar. Line of Duty doesn’t have their Group 1 experience, but he does bring a solid formline, a sharp turn of foot, and education from a few stretch tussles.
By Galileo and out of Jacqueline Quest (controversially demoted from her victory in the 1000 Guineas [G1] in 2010), Line of Duty was unlucky not to win first up at Sandown. He was pocketed until deep stretch, when pulled out late and flying home to miss by a neck to Arctic Sound, the future Tattersalls (G3) winner. Line of Duty was collared as the 1-2 favorite next time at Haydock, but his runner-up effort looked better after the victorious Great Scot went on to take the Ascendant S. and finished fifth in a bunched-up Vertem Futurity (formerly Racing Post) Trophy (G1).
Up in trip to a mile for a Goodwood maiden, Line of Duty was again trapped in traffic, and you can try to count the number of times jockey William Buick tried to alter course. Once steered to the rail, he shot through to defeat Pablo Escobarr and two other next-out winners.
Line of Duty ventured to Chantilly for the Prix de Conde (G3) going about nine furlongs on good-to-soft, and he once more had to muscle his way through the pocket to win well. The form was boosted when third-placer Wonderment came back to upset the Criterium de Saint-Cloud (G1). Line of Duty has a further connection to the Criterium – the third in his debut, Fox Tal, was also third in the Group 1.
Smart performance – Galileo colt Line Of Duty shows a telling turn of foot to land Group 3 honours for @godolphin at @fgchantilly. Another winning French foray for Charlie Appleby and William Buick… pic.twitter.com/vFhocXgloG— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) October 1, 2018
Although cutting back in trip and taking a class hike, Line of Duty has proven his ability to get out of jams, and given how tough conditions might be on Friday, it probably helps to be battle-tested here.
MARIE’S DIAMOND: Speaking of battle-tested… The most experienced entrant with nine starts under his belt, Marie’s Diamond has been competing in major six-furlong events, and on pedigree, he could prosper at a mile. As with Anthony Van Dyck, a wide post (13) and possibly less than ideal ground complicate the analysis.
A typically hardy campaigner for Mark Johnston, Marie’s Diamond is by miler Footstepsinthesand and out of Sindiyma, who needed 1 1/2 miles to break her maiden. His broodmare sire, Kalanisi, won the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), and he hails from the further family of the great Sinndar.
After a debut win slogging a heavy five furlongs at Leicester in April, Marie’s Diamond was a one-paced third in the lucrative Olympic Glory conditions race at Newbury on Lockinge Day. He was sent off as the favorite in the Woodcote on Epsom Oaks Day, showing speed before weakening to sixth on a soft course.
Back on good-to-firm at the bull ring of Chester, Marie’s Diamond sped to a front-running victory, and into Group company for the rest of the season. In the Railway (G2), he was in the vanguard and stayed on to beat all bar O’Brien’s odds-on favorite, Van Beethoven (also-eligible in Juvenile Turf Sprint).
Marie’s Diamond succeeded in his return visit to the Curragh for the 6 1/2-furlong Anglesey (G3), with favored Just Wonderful (Juvenile Fillies Turf [G1]) a belated third.
Marie’s Diamond – winner of the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes at @curraghrace for trainer Mark Johnston, jockey James Doyle and owners Middleham Park Racing @the_doyler @MprUpdates pic.twitter.com/mAJbPgFjXw— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) July 21, 2018
Next seen in the Goffs Goodwood auction ring, Marie’s Diamond would have topped the sale at £675,000 – if that bid had reached his reserve price. His Middleham Park Racing ownership group valued him more highly than that, and accordingly retained him.
One day later, Marie’s Diamond was a gallant, if troubled, second in the Richmond (G2). Further behind than normal after being squeezed back at the start, he did well to work his way into a close second to yet another O’Brien runner, Land Force.
Marie’s Diamond made his first Group 1 attempt in the Prix Morny (G1), but threw in a clunker when laboring before halfway and eased to last of nine. Reportedly none the worse for wear, he was intended for the Mill Reef (G2) at Newbury. Johnston scratched him once the ground came up soft. Perhaps he’d gotten away with unsuitable going in his maiden, but couldn’t versus better competition.
Conditions were plenty quick enough for his latest, the September 29 Middle Park (G1) at Newmarket, and Marie’s Diamond finished a creditable fourth to O’Brien’s unbeaten Ten Sovereigns in a highly-rated renewal. Leading early, he simply didn’t have the requisite speed to contain the winner or runner-up Jash. Marie’s Diamond might have been a shade unlucky not to save third. He appeared to get unbalanced in the “Dip,” losing position momentarily but regaining momentum up the rising ground to miss third by a half-length.
Marie’s Diamond will be given every chance here with the booking of Florent Geroux.
ARTHUR KITT: Like Anthony Van Dyck, Arthur Kitt boasts a placing to Too Darn Hot, but in a lesser event. Given his poignant background, there won’t be a dry eye in the house if he takes a step forward at Churchill Downs.
The Tom Dascombe pupil was perhaps the feel-good story of Royal Ascot. His dam, 2012 Queen Mary (G2) heroine Ceiling Kitty, tragically died during foaling. Her Camelot baby nearly perished himself. Few could have imagined that two years later, the well-named Arthur Kitt would star at the Royal meeting himself, a homebred for the same connections, in posthumous tribute to Ceiling Kitty.
Arthur Kitt must have inherited a touch of his dam’s speed and precocity, for it was a positive sign for a son of Camelot to score at first asking over six furlongs. After that daylight success at Haydock, he advanced to the seven-furlong Chesham at Royal Ascot. The “fairy tale” appeared unlikely as Arthur Kitt was under a ride a long way out, but he gradually found more and got up over Nate the Great. If the runner-up has since let the form down, a few other Chesham alums have graduated to stakes success, albeit not at the top shelf.
Dascombe reportedly gave Arthur Kitt a summer holiday by design, bringing him back for the September 1 Solario (G3). That marked the stakes debut of the buzzsaw known as Too Darn Hot, who dismissed Arthur Kitt, in a front-running role this time, by four lengths.
Stretching out to a mile for the September 29 Royal Lodge (G2) appeared the right move, only for Arthur Kitt to turn in the worst race of his life. Unlike his previous stakes tries, where he found plenty under pressure, he came up empty and trudged home fifth behind O’Brien’s Mohawk.
Arthur Kitt is better than that, but the question is how well this fits him as a rebound spot. He can’t afford to hit flat spots as he did in either the Chesham or Royal Lodge – a two-turn mile gives little luxury for winding up. Trying to secure a forward spot from post 1 might help him keep grinding the shortest way around the track, and jockey Richard Kingscote is a crafty tactician. Still, he’s liable to find a couple of others sharper.
Note that Ceiling Kitty herself ran in the Breeders’ Cup for Dascombe, attempting the Juvenile Sprint in 2012, only to trail on the dirt at Santa Anita. She would have loved a Juvenile Turf Sprint.
THE BLACK ALBUM: Team Valor specifically recruited the Prix La Rochette (G3) winner as a Juvenile Turf prospect, and his tactical adaptability, plus form on good-to-soft, will come in handy.
Trained by Jane Soubagné in Bordeaux, The Black Album made his first three starts at his home track, La Teste de Buch, all at six furlongs, and the collateral formlines are more interesting than you might expect. He was third on debut to Harmless, the subsequent winner of the Prix Roland de Chambure over Pivottina (the Natalma [G1] fourth and now a Juvenile Fillies Turf also-eligible).
The Black Album took up a closer stalking position next time out when breaking his maiden handily, then rallied from about midpack in his conditions victory. The runner-up in the latter race, Monette, came back to score in the Criterium du Bequet, and after acquisition by Madaket Stables, just missed in the Matron (G3) in her stateside bow.
Earning a crack at a Deauville stakes, The Black Album shipped for the seven-furlong Prix Francois Boutin, where he was in contention before cocking his head in ungainly manner and fading to fourth. He turned out to have a dental problem that was easily corrected surgically.
After his trip to the dentist, The Black Album reached a new high in the Prix La Rochette. He showed tactical foot to attend the modest pace, kicked on, and gamely staved off the closers in a three-way photo.
Beaten favorite Ecolo (third) has done nothing to flatter the form, but the fourth across the line was none other than Lily’s Candle, who would upset the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) on her way to the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
The Black Album, by the same sire as European champion Almanzor (Wootton Bassett), keeps Mickael Barzalona aboard for his stiffest class test. He needs to step up, but the 30-1 shot is the type to transition well to American racing, and accordingly will remain here with Rodolphe Brisset.
Line of Duty at Churchill Downs/Coady Photography