Breeders' Cup International Horse Profile: Vertiginous

December 31st, 2021

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

Speedy filly finally broke through in juvenile course-record time for trainer Brian Meehan, who sent out two Breeders' Cup Turf heroes in Red Rocks (2006) and Dangerous Midge (2010). Of more relevance here is Meehan’s attempt in the short-lived Juvenile Sprint on dirt, where his 15-1 Shumoos was a rallying second to Secret Circle at Churchill Downs in 2011. Vertiginous has the look of a substantial overlay at a 20-1 morning line for the 2021 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

Bred by Forenaghts Stud and the astute trainer/breeder Jim Bolger, Vertiginous is a half-sister (by Oasis Dream) to Group 3 vixen Tobann. Their dam, the Indian Ridge mare Precipitous, hails from a productive family responsible for Verbal Dexterity, the 2017 Vincent O’Brien National (G1) winner, and further back, multiple Group 1 sprint star Double Form.

Although Vertiginous took six starts to achieve her breakthrough, she was running consistently well. She was a green runner-up as the 5-2 favorite in her five-furlong debut at Bath, where she wasn’t quick from the gate but stayed on.

Meehan nevertheless pitched her into the Queen Mary, and Vertiginous was in the hunt for a long way as a 66-1 longshot. Showing good speed, she was among those chasing Twilight Gleaming early, only to tire late. Vertiginous still held fifth, in a field of 21 fillies, behind Quick Suzy .

Odds-on on the drop back to novice company at Kempton, Vertiginous “did a lot wrong in second,” as track announcer Mark Johnson summed up. She went to the lead on the Polytrack, but proved difficult to handle, throwing her head up in the air and cocking it right. Even worse came when she reached the right-handed turn, as she veered wide and carried a couple of rivals with her. That left a gaping hole for the experienced Silken Petals on the inside, and the 6-5 second choice took full advantage to beat her by a neck. With better racing manners, Vertiginous likely would have won.

Back to a straightaway at York, Vertiginous stepped up to six furlongs for the Lowther (G2) and again held her own in smart company in fourth. The 33-1 shot attended the pace and remained in contention until the final furlong, when retreating three lengths behind Zain Claudette. Vertiginous was just nipped for third in a photo, and Hello You (Juvenile Fillies Turf) was back in fifth.

The 1-3 favorite in a six-furlong novice next time at Haydock, Vertiginous had her rivals on the ropes until the final yards. She sped to the front and appeared to be going effortlessly down the straightaway, but couldn’t quite see out the trip. Up in time to nail her was the 28-1 Rishes Baar, who’s since finished a troubled fourth in the Oh So Sharp (G3) at Newmarket.

For the first time since the Queen Mary, Vertiginous returned to perhaps her ideal scenario – a straight five furlongs – in the Sept. 17 Harry Rosebery and loved every second of it. Displaying high speed while well within herself, the 17-2 chance easily dismissed a solid field, including colts, by two lengths. Even better was her time of :56.89, a new juvenile course record at Ayr. Third-placer Geocentric, previously runner-up in the Round Tower (G3), has come back to take the Legacy at Dundalk. Fifth-placer Canonized just missed in the next day’s Firth of Clyde (G3) and then captured the Rockingham at York.

Vertiginous’ chances depend upon how she handles a left-handed turn at Del Mar. Meehan has schooled her turning left, and believes she’ll cope much better than going the opposite way around Kempton. Otherwise, this trip and quick ground are exactly what she wants. Considering how much she’s matured since the Queen Mary, she could turn the tables on Twilight Gleaming.