Breeders' Cup International Horse Profile: Ocean Road

December 30th, 2021

Filly & Mare Turf

On paper, Ocean Road has plenty to prove, but the Qatar Racing sophomore is likely better than her literal record, and even that represents some intriguing form. Hence she’s a 20-1 wildcard in the 2021 Filly & Mare Turf for trainer Hugo Palmer, who also has Hierarchy (Juvenile Turf Sprint) and Dubawi Legend (Juvenile Turf) in Breeders’ Cup races.

Two of Ocean Road’s grandparents are Breeders’ Cup champions. Her sire, dual classic winner Australia, is a son of Galileo and two-time Filly & Mare Turf star Ouija Board. Her dam is by Theatrical, the near-misser to Manila in the 1986 Turf who won the 1987 edition. Ocean Road is a half-sister to popular globetrotter Wigmore Hall, who captured Woodbine’s Northern Dancer Turf (G1) in 2011-12.

A 12-1 shot in her unveiling at Nottingham last fall, Ocean Road outperformed her odds in an encouraging second. She was last into stride from the gate, but traveled exceptionally well when advancing into the stretch and forcing well-backed Noon Star to find more to beat her. Ocean Road tired late in the about 1 1/16-mile maiden on soft going and finished 3 1/4 lengths astern. Noon Star went on to win again in her sophomore bow and finished second as the favorite in the Musidora (G3) to Snowfall (and ahead of Turf hope Teona).

Ocean Road promptly broke her maiden next time going a mile on Lingfield’s Polytrack. The 13-8 favorite was again leisurely at the break, tacked toward the rail before peeling back out for the overland route, lengthened in attack mode leaving the left-handed turn, and won for fun.

Returning to Lingfield for her seasonal reappearance on turf, Ocean Road finished third in the May 8 Oaks Trial. She was unhurried at the rear, and appeared a bit disorganized on the turning descent, but closed boldly on the inside down the straight. Perhaps the soft ground contributed to her running out of steam, and she was beaten a total of a length. Loving Dream, fifth as the favorite, rebounded in the Ribblesdale (G2) at Royal Ascot and recently landed the Prix de Royallieu (G1) on Arc weekend.

Ocean Road was a 25-1 shot in the Oaks (G1) at Epsom, where she slogged from well back into sixth. One spot ahead of her in fifth was favored Santa Barbara, who would later achieve American stardom, while further behind Ocean Road were future Group 1 vixens Saffron Beach and Teona. The Lingfield form wasn’t too bad, with the Epsom third and fourth – Divinely and Save a Forest – both exiting the same Oaks Trial.

Unlike those who were able to prove their Oaks result all wrong, Ocean Road was not seen again until the fall. Her checkered passage in the Oct. 8 Pride (G3) at Newmarket left more questions than answers. Traveling well while buried in midpack, the 17-2 chance was buffeted as she muscled her way through, and she looked on the way to an unplaced finish. But once in the clear on the rising ground, Ocean Road picked up for third, albeit about three lengths behind the top two.

Ocean Road has encountered rain-softened ground in all of her turf starts so far, but her pedigree and performance suggest she could thrive on a quicker surface. If so, she might be another Oaks alumna to move forward dramatically, and it wouldn’t be a shock if she can sneak into the lower rungs of the exotics at a big price.