Breeders' Cup International Horse Profile: Go Bears Go

December 31st, 2021

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

The near-misser in Royal Ascot’s Norfolk (G2), a “Win and You’re In” for this race, Go Bears Go hopes that history repeats itself. Last year, Golden Pal was just denied in the Norfolk, but won the Juvenile Turf Sprint.

The obvious difference is that Golden Pal was a Ward speedster proven to excel in American conditions, while Go Bears Go brings the typical European profile of a straight-track performer. As a graduate of the Robson Aguiar consignment, however, he learned how to break well and get into stride fast.

The stablemate of Juvenile Fillies Turf contender Hello You gives trainer David Loughnane two chances in his first Breeders’ Cup voyage. Since Loughnane sees both as prospects for next spring’s Guineas, it’s curious that Go Bears Go is in the sprint. Indeed, his recent comments suggest that this placement is on the initiative of the owner, Kia Joorabchian’s Amo Racing.

By miler Kodi Bear (a son of Kodiac from the Danehill sire line), Go Bears Go is out of a Giant’ s Causeway mare who is a half to Nahrain, the runner-up in the 2011 Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Nahrain, herself a Grade/Group 1 winner in both the U.S. and France, is now better known as the dam of Godolphin’s globetrotter Benbatl.

A 150,000-guineas purchase at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up Sale in mid-April, Go Bears Go furnished a quick dividend in his Ascot debut May 8. The 6-1 shot dictated the pace on the rail, appeared ready to be swamped as a few rivals drew abreast, but kicked on again to score readily.

That set him up for the Norfolk over the same course and five-furlong trip, this time on good-to-firm, where he was just mugged on the line in a race that split into two groups. Indeed, Go Bears Go led throughout on the far side and couldn’t see the winner Perfect Power, who rattled home late in the stands’ side group. As far as Go Bears Go knew, he “won” in his group, but the camera showed Perfect Power’s head in front on the opposite side of the course.

Go Bears Go made a quick turnaround for the June 26 Railway (G2) and gained compensation. Up to six furlongs at the Curragh, he raced prominently and put the race away entering the final furlong. Go Bears Go crossed the Irish Sea again for the Aug. 8 Phoenix (G1), but didn’t find as much as expected as the 6-4 favorite. He stalked the pace set by fellow British invader Ebro River, couldn’t get past, and wound up a close third on yielding ground.

Back on good-to-firm for Newmarket’s Middle Park (G1), Go Bears Go chased but looked outpaced in the six-furlong affair. He persevered in a grinding fourth in a blanket finish, beaten a length by old foe Perfect Power and just a neck off Armor. Go Bears Go barely overtook another frequent rival, front-running Twilight Jet, who hitherto hadn’t gotten near him.

Off that evidence, Loughnane concluded that Go Bears Go needed an extra furlong at this stage. So he tried the Dewhurst (G1), but faded to seventh in the eight-horse field.

The question now is whether Go Bears Go has simply lost his early-season edge to juveniles who have caught, and surpassed him, on the developmental curve. Loughnane has him pegged as the type to train on at three, and pedigree would certainly back up that view. Yet from a Breeders’ Cup perspective, you’d prefer to see a two-year-old on the upswing. Note that he adds blinkers here.