2019 Beverly D. international scouting reports: Magic Wand, Fleeting, Awesometank

August 7th, 2019

Aidan O’Brien, still in search of his first win in the Beverly D. (G1), could be double-handed as he tries to halt the Chad Brown winning streak. Brown has won four straight (and five overall) editions, and his defending champion Sistercharlie will be difficult to dethrone in this sister race to the Arlington Million (G1). O’Brien has Magic Wand, who is cross-entered to the Million, and Fleeting, who might be left to shoulder Ballydoyle hopes alone in the Beverly D. Before Brown’s reign began, British shippers had taken three in a row (2012-14), and would have made it four if Secret Gesture hadn’t been demoted in 2015. There’s one British hopeful this time around, in the tactical Awesometank.


Which Brown behemoth should Magic Wand take on? Bricks and Mortar, who comfortably beat her in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), looms large in the Million. Sistercharlie likewise defeated her in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), but on paper, Magic Wand has less of a deficit to make up on her main distaff rival. As discussed in the Million scouting report (see her replays and analysis at the link), Magic Wand didn’t get her preferred quick surface when trying either one of the Brown stars. Gulfstream Park was yielding for the Pegasus, and Churchill Downs was officially “good” but with plenty of residual moisture that blunted her kick in the Breeders’ Cup. So she’s capable of better than the bare results in both. Although her beaten margin was about the same when runner-up to Bricks and Mortar (2 1/2 lengths) and fourth to Sistercharlie (2 3/4 lengths), the respective weight assignments must be included. Bricks and Mortar gave her 12 pounds and a comfortable beating, while Sistercharlie carried four more (as an older filly versus then-sophomore Magic Wand). At Arlington, Magic Wand would receive only three pounds from Bricks and Mortar, and meet Sistercharlie on level terms. By those calculations, the Beverly D. is the better spot. The counterpoint is that Sistercharlie is a fresh champion making just the second start of her campaign. As dominant as Bricks and Mortar has been, it’s not easy to remain at a peak from wintertime straight through the summer. And if he regresses at all, the Million is up for grabs. Even knowing that no mare has captured the Million besides Estrapade (1986), the big prize is tempting. The Coolmore brain trust is presumably assessing every angle, especially as Magic Wand comes off a career-worst last in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1). That strikes me as a draw-a-line-through-it loss, but still a factor in the decision-making.


Stablemate Fleeting enters in the form of her life, with the proviso that three-year-olds have generally found it tough to cope with elders in this spot. Euro Charline (2014) is the lone winner from this demographic, and she was already proven over older distaffers (admittedly of lesser caliber). By Zoffany, a scion of the Danehill line, Fleeting inherits her abundant stamina from her dam, Spanish champion Azafata. That daughter of Motivator (the same sire as Treve) romped in the 2012 Premio Villamejor (Spanish St Leger) going 1 3/4 miles at Madrid’s La Zarzuela. Fleeting won at first asking as a juvenile – a good sign for an O’Brien runner even in a small field at Limerick. She must have been showing something at home to go off as the 9-4 second choice, and needed every yard of the seven furlongs to get up. Shortening up to six furlongs for the Grangecon Stud (G3) figured to be too sharp, but she had the pace to lead before dropping back to last, in too poor a display just to chalk up to the distance. Indeed, Fleeting wasn’t seen again for two months until the September 1 Flame of Tara (G3) at the Curragh, where she placed a solid third to Just Wonderful (who recently was second to Concrete Rose in the Belmont Oaks Invitational [G1]). She didn’t have Just Wonderful’s turn of foot but kept on dourly. Fleeting improved for that tightener when wheeling back 12 days later to upset the May Hill (G2) at Doncaster at 12-1. In a change of running style, she relaxed at the rear of the field, hit top gear in the final furlong of the mile, and won going away. Runner-up Star Terms came right back to finish a near-miss third in the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) on Arc Day. The Boussac was on the radar for Fleeting, as was the Fillies’ Mile (G1), but she ended up calling it a season. She resurfaced in Newmarket’s 1000 Guineas (G1) and faded to last of 15, in what was merely a warm-up. Fleeting took a leap forward over 1 1/2 miles in the Oaks (G1) at Epsom. Switched off at the back of pack, in an unpromising position entering the straight, the 25-1 shot did not have the clearest of runs before spearing through on the inside. Her eye-catching rally snatched third to Anapurna and well-backed stablemate Pink Dogwood.
Staying at 1 1/2 miles in her two ensuing starts, Fleeting validated her Epsom effort. She was sent off as the favorite in the Ribblesdale (G2) at Royal Ascot, but ran into John Gosden’s rapidly progressing Star Catcher. The decisive point came in upper stretch when Fleeting tried to follow Star Catcher through, but the winner forged clear. To be fair, Fleeting did quicken while having to thread through the field. Yet Star Catcher’s better position gave her the upper hand, and she found more in the final furlong to keep Fleeting at bay.