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A yardstick to measure the greatness of Winx

By Dick Powell

There has always been a lot of chatter when foreign horses are dominating their regions. Questions arise regarding who they are beating and why don’t they come to America? As one Australian trainer, Peter Moody, once reminded: “The planes fly both ways.”

Every once in a while, an American horse ventures overseas and the results are not always pretty. I remember multiple Grade 1 turf stakes winner ENGLISH CHANNEL winning a nine-furlong turf race at Gulfstream Park in 1:44 2/5 before shipping to Dubai for the Duty Free (G1) and running 12th, beaten 14 1/2 lengths. He was a Grade 1 stakes winner before shipping and after shipping but was well beaten at Nad al Sheba.

Australian horses have shined when leaving “Down Under.” Their record at Royal Ascot has been terrific over the years, highlighted by Moody’s own BLACK CAVIAR winning the Diamond Jubilee (G1) by a desperate head in 2013. Now, the rage is WINX who, incredibly, won her 32nd straight race when she won her fourth straight George Ryder Stakes (G1) going 7 1/2 furlongs at Rosehill on Saturday.

The daughter of Street Cry, just like the immortal ZENYATTA, sat off a soft pace while willing to lose ground in the clear. The turf course was rated (8) Heavy which is close to about as soft as it gets. Even though the race was on turf, you heard the track announcer say that her rider, Hugh Bowman, had her on the outside to avoid the kickback. Yes, when turf is that wet, there is kickback. Not wet sand but clods of wet turf that you don’t want your mount to get hit with.

With little urging, Winx took over the in the stretch and I liked that Bowman rode her through the final furlong no matter the distance. The last thing she needs is an easy win before her final race in three weeks so everyone went home happy.

But, there is a form line that we can measure Winx’s greatness over here. HIGHLAND REEL was a Group 2 stakes winner in Europe before he shipped to America to win the Secretariat Stakes (G1) in 2015. Aidan O’Brien shipped him to Australia for the Cox Plate (G1), Australia’s premier weight-for-age race in late October that year. He faced Winx and she beat him by 5 1/2 lengths. It was the first of four Cox Plate wins for her while Highland Reel came back to win the Hong Kong Vase (G1) next out over Flintshire. In 2016, Highland Reel won the King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) then after running second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), he shipped to America and won the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).

In 2017, he won two Group 1 stakes races and was a terrific third in that year’s Turf at Del Mar. He finished up his career with another win in the Hong Kong Vase and finished up his career with earnings over $10.5 million. But, he was no match for Winx.

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Not sure if we saw a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner this past weekend but I was really impressed with the second-place performance of ANOTHERTWISTAFATE in the Sunland Derby (G3). The winner, CUTTING HUMOR was very good but considering that Anothertwistafate sat in behind horses, ate dirt, then closed relentlessly behind a loose leader in the stretch to miss by a quarter-length was awesome. The final time was excellent and now he has the advantage of going back to Golden Gate to train on the Tapeta which will get him in even better shape. The expensive son of Scat Daddy has 30 Kentucky Derby eligibility points which might be enough to go there without another prep. If he doesn’t qualify for the Derby, he already has secured a berth in the Preakness Stakes (G1) based on his win in the El Camino Real Derby.

File photo of Winx (c) Steve Hart via Sky Racing

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