Breeders' Cup International Horse Profile: Armor

December 31st, 2021

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

A Breeders’ Cup trophy has continued to elude Richard Hannon, both the father and son of that name. If the younger Hannon is going to win one, chances are it would come courtesy of a sharp juvenile. Armor fits that profile, if the five-furlong specialist can maintain decent position on the turn.

Sire No Nay Never, a star European two-year-old for Wesley Ward, was just nailed in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Armor’s dam is by two-time Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) champ High Chaparral.

Armor must have been precocious in his homework to go off as the 11-10 favorite in his unveiling at Doncaster Apr. 24. The Al Shaqab colorbearer attended the pacesetter before taking over, looking a tad green but keeping the closer safely at bay with ears pricked.

Not seen again until Royal Ascot’s Windsor Castle S., also at five furlongs, the 9-1 Armor raced a few lengths off the pace and kept on for a sneakily-good fifth of 27. The big field congregated into two separate groups, and he was “third” on his far side of the course, where the overall winner, Chipotle, rallied handsomely. Hannon noted that Armor was still looking inexperienced.

Armor took a leap forward in the July 28 Molecomb (G3) at Glorious Goodwood. With Ryan Moore back aboard for the first time since his maiden score, the 6-1 chance drafted just behind the pace, then surged on the soft ground to dominate by 3 1/4 lengths. Armor was comprehensively reversing form with Chipotle, now well back in sixth.

Favored in the Prix Morny (G1) at Deauville, Armor eased further back in the pack, then picked up well to put himself in contention. But he was outfinished in this first attempt at about six furlongs, crossing the wire in fourth, with Quick Suzy ninth.

Returning to five furlongs for the Flying Childers (G2), at the scene of his debut victory, figured to get him back in the winner’s circle. And so it appeared when Moore lifted the 5-4 favorite to the front in deep stretch, only to have Caturra swoop even faster to snatch him.

Armor was given another chance at six furlongs in the Middle Park (G1), and again performed creditably in defeat. Slowly away and on hold before finding a seam to split rivals, Armor quickened but ebbed late as Perfect Power prevailed in a tight finish. If his distance limitations were confirmed, Armor nevertheless tried every yard in third, edging Go Bears Go and Twilight Jet.

Armor’s two wins, and his Flying Childers near-miss, have come with Moore in the saddle. In his other three races with Pat Dobbs, he was further back in the pack early. Reuniting with Moore could be key to his Del Mar chances. Armor has a kick, including on good-to-firm, but lagging behind early would leave him too much to do on a turning track.