Breeders' Cup International Horse Profile: Queen Supreme

December 30th, 2021

Filly & Mare Turf

An Irish-bred with a global pedigree who became a celebrity in South Africa for Mike de Kock, Queen Supreme has to overcome a far from ideal preparation for the 2021 Filly & Mare Turf. The two-time winner of the “Win and You’re In” Paddock (G1) at Kenilworth lost fitness in transit to the Northern Hemisphere, thanks to the draconian protocols governing horses shipping from South Africa. That was evident as she trailed in her British prep intended to put her right for the Breeders’ Cup.

On pedigree, Queen Supreme should enjoy Del Mar. She is by Australian champion and top sire Exceed and Excel and out of an American-bred mare by Gone West. Her dam, Call Later, is a half-sister to Juddmonte’s brilliant Ventura, who scored in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and beat males in the 2009 Woodbine Mile (G1).

Exported after selling for €130,000 as a Goffs Orby yearling, Queen Supreme raced at Turffontein except for her January raids on the Cape. She stamped her class straightaway on debut in June 2019, bolting up in an about seven-furlong maiden with more in reserve. De Kock faulted the ride for her ensuing loss over the same course and distance, when she was a surging third at odds-on in a handicap. There was no mistake next time in a graduation plate over a metric mile, and Queen Supreme outclassed them.

After another dominant display in a handicap at the same trip, Queen Supreme spread-eagled the field in her first Group attempt, the Yellowwood H. (G3), in November 2019. As she widened her advantage near the end of the about 1 1/8-mile affair, the track announcer hailed her as “new royalty.”

Queen Supreme took on older males next out in the about 1 1/4-mile Summer Cup (G1), where her winning streak ended in a grinding fourth. But the 9-2 chance performed creditably, and she wasn’t beaten far by the 28-1 Zillzaal who stole it on the front end.

Shipped to Kenilworth for the Paddock in January 2020, back in distaff company at about 1 1/8 miles, Queen Supreme rebounded to land her first Group 1 in style. The 11-4 second choice was parked in third behind a clear leader, then swept past to win by a convincing 2 1/2 lengths.

Queen Supreme remained in the Cape for the Majorca (G1), but threw in a clunker in 12th as the favorite. After uncharacteristically retreating from her stalking position, she was found to have sustained a cut. De Kock thought more was involved, explaining that it’s tough for horses based in Johannesburg to acclimate to the Cape. A quick raid was one thing, but staying for a few weeks longer took a toll on her system.

Freshened up at her home base, Queen Supreme returned in June 2020 in the Horse Chestnut (G1) versus males. On the cutback to a metric mile, she closed from the rear of the field to finish best of the rest to champion colt Hawwaam. So highly regarded was Hawwaam that he was sent to British trainer William Haggas in hopes of showcasing his merit on the world stage. Unfortunately, he never raced abroad and wound up retiring to stud in South Africa.

Queen Supreme was odds-on as she reverted to her own division in the Empress Club (G1), but hit her stride a little too late in third. Off a five-month break, she resumed in last November ’s Ipi Tombe Challenge (G2) and finished an honorable second, while trying to give War of Athena 20 pounds. Queen Supreme tracked the pace enthusiastically, but with her 132-pound impost, she was just outkicked by the future champion filly. Regaining the winning thread next time, Queen Supreme got a confidence-booster that put her spot-on for another trip to Kenilworth.

Note that Queen Supreme was just disqualified from that win and from her prior second to War of Athena, having returned a positive postrace test for caffeine following both races. De Kock was fined R34,000 under the trainer’s liability rule, although the ruling stipulated that he was not involved or aware of the administration of caffeine. Details are available in an Oct. 11 press release published by South Africa’s

A 3-1 chance in her Jan. 9 Paddock title defense, Queen Supreme wasn’t unleashed until midstretch, under confident handling. Then she asserted to score the repeat victory, with ears pricked by 2 1/4 lengths. De Kock brought her back home to Johannesburg before flying out again for the Jan. 30 Met (G1), hoping that would help her do herself justice in her Cape follow-up. But she still flopped second out at Kenilworth, reminiscent of her Majorca a year ago.

Connections were eager to take up the “Win and You’re In” offer, and so Queen Supreme began the long trek out of the country. Her ordeal included a three-month quarantine in Mauritius. Andrew Balding took over her training once she finally made it to Great Britain, where she used the Sept. 24 Joel (G2) as her tightener. But she was playing catch-up to regain race-fitness, emptied about a quarter-mile out, and finished a tailed-off last behind course record-setting Benbatl, Pogo, and Master of the Seas (Mile).

Queen Supreme will strip fitter off that effort, and Balding reports that she’s training very well since. But can she be at her best for a Breeders' Cup championship event? And if she were at her peak, the 1 3/8-mile trip might stretch her, especially at this level. Indeed, Balding has said that the Mile remains her true preference, but she’s the second also-eligible needing help to draw into that race. With Gary Barber on board as her new owner, perhaps she can have more opportunities to show her high class stateside.