2018 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf international scouting report: Magic Wand, Wild Illusion, Eziyra, and more

October 28th, 2018

Magic Wand (c) Frank Sorge/Horsephotos.com

Over the past six years, Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) winners have been either European shippers or Chad Brown trainees. The score is tied at 3-3, and Saturday’s edition will tip the balance.

Although Team Brown has strength in both quantity and quality, the Europeans counter with a few serious win contenders.

MAGIC WAND: Aidan O’Brien is overdue to win his first Filly & Mare Turf, and this Galileo half-sister to 2013 Irish Oaks (G1) heroine Chicquita (fifth versus males in the 2014 Turf [G1]) is well qualified to do the honors – as long as the ground isn’t too soft. That’s a concern with rain in the forecast putting us on weather watch all week.

After Magic Wand started out with two losses over a boggy Leopardstown, O’Brien wasted no more time in maidens and instead sent her straight to Chester for the May 9 Cheshire Oaks. Magic Wand appreciated the “good” turf so much that she broke her maiden in the classic trial, leading throughout in a 3 1/2-length decision. Stablemate Forever Together would have finished a lot closer but for a wretched traffic jam, and had to settle for overtaking Princess Yaiza for second.

The Oaks (G1) at Epsom served up a reversal of fortune. With the rain scuttling Magic Wand’s chances, Forever Together turned the tables to win handsomely, outstaying Godolphin’s Wild Illusion by a commanding 4 1/2 lengths. Magic Wand labored home fourth, unable to lift on the soft course.

At a sunny Royal Ascot, however, Magic Wand roared right back to form in the Ribblesdale (G2). Traveling like a dream in a prominent position, she stormed four lengths clear of Wild Illusion on good-to-firm, leaving stablemate Athena behind in a one-paced fourth.

Good-to-firm conditions in the Irish Oaks might have helped Magic Wand gain revenge on Forever Together, but she uncharacteristically failed to respond, and trudged home a subpar fifth as the 10-11 favorite. Then word came that Magic Wand was sick, a casualty of the virus that would wreck Ballydoyle’s midsummer.

O’Brien, speaking generally of his virus protocol, described how he didn’t want to push his horses as they recovered, but went very easy on them. Thus like many of her stablemates upon returning to action, Magic Wand was hardly cranked for the Yorkshire Oaks (G1). She set the pace, putting away Laurens, and didn’t hit the fitness wall until well down the stretch. In the circumstances, her fifth-place finish was creditable, four lengths adrift of Sea of Class (who would nearly catch Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe [G1]), and only a couple of lengths off Coronet and Eziyra.

Magic Wand took the expected step forward in the Prix Vermeille (G1), the fastest of the three Arc trials on September 16 at ParisLongchamp. Quickening off the strong pace, she appeared to have made the winning move only to be cut down late by Godolphin’s Kitesurf. Magic Wand shortened up to 1 1/4 miles for the Prix de l’Opera (G1) on Arc Day, where she arguably should have been more forwardly placed to get the jump on Wild Illusion. Instead, Wild Illusion pounced from a more advantageous spot and Magic Wand came second.