by DICK POWELL
Two legendary female Thoroughbred runners delivered epic performances 10,427 miles apart this past weekend. They were so good that it doesn’t even get noted that they again beat male counterparts since they do it all the time.
On Saturday, WINX put her 27-race winning streak on the line at Flemington in Melbourne, Australia. She’d been racing at shorter distances going right-handed in New South Wales and was shipping down to Victoria for the Turnbull (G1), a left-handed, 1 1/4-mile event.. Lately, her margins of victory have been worrisome but at least going the longer distance would give her plenty of time to unwind her late kick. Wrong!
Hugh Bowman broke Winx well and then took her back to second-last in the 10-runner field. She sat and watched the leaders cruise along and she was not passing horses around the wide, sweeping turn. In her previous races, Bowman would tip her out and charge down the outside and use her class advantage to get up in time. In the Turnbull, Winx was still far back with 400 meters to go and stuck behind a wall of horses.
Finally, a seam opened up and Bowman guided Winx through it. She was still in seventh place with 200 meters to go but, responding to hands and heels, Winx just cruised to the wire to win going away as if the result was never in doubt. It was her 28th straight victory and 21st Group 1 stakes win. Her earnings are now just shy of A$20 million and she now goes to the Cox Plate (G1), Australia’s premier weight-for-age event run at just over 1 1/4 miles on the tight Moonee Valley course. Winx has won it a record three straight times and will try to set the bar impossibly high with four.
The daughter of Street Cry, sire of the equally sensational Zenyatta, paid $2.10 to win and gets three weeks until the Cox Plate. Bowman will have to her in gear farther out since the wire comes up really fast, but having done it three years in a row, he and she are used to it. I thought some of her previous races showed she might be slowing down a bit but not in the Turnbull. She was awesome as ever and trainer Chris Waller had her primed for a big effort and, in retrospect, won the Turnbull with plenty left. I don’t care what time of night the Cox Plate will be run. I am setting my alarm clock to wake me up for it.
On Sunday morning in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), at the refurbished ParisLongchamp, ENABLE was defending her title from last year which she won easily. This year, she has had some setbacks and did not make her seasonal debut until four weeks ago when she won the September (G3) on the synthetic track at Kempton going 1 1/2 miles. Trainer John Gosden used that win and the time since then to rush Enable back into fitness.
Enable has tactical speed and Dettori used it to keep her out of trouble in the 19-runner field from a favorable draw in post six. SEA OF CLASS drew terribly in 15 and she wound up near the back of the pack leaving James Doyle with no choice but to try to make one big run on the sensational three-year-old filly by Sea the Stars. In the stretch, Dettori struck first and hit the front with Enable, daring the field to catch her.
The gap that she opened in deep stretch was the difference between winning his record sixth straight Arc and losing as Doyle came between horses with Sea of Class and was making up ground alarmingly. Luckily for the even-money favorite, the wire saved her and Enable joins Treve as female repeat winners of the Arc. Sea of Class was spectacular and CLOTH OF STARS, second last year, rallied for third in an impressive performance.
With only two starts this year, Gosden will see how she comes out of the race and, if all is well, will probably come to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). It now looks like Sea of Class will be put away for the year and try again next year. Cloth of Stars is always a danger if he gets the proper pace in front of him and I would not rule out horses like WALDGEIST and KEW GARDENS in the Turf as they were far back early and finished full of run.
(Photo copyright APRH/courtesy of France Galop)