Breeders' Cup International Scouting Report: Donjah

December 31st, 2020

Initially aiming for the Arc, Donjah was rerouted to the Breeders' Cup Turf by Darius Racing and champion German trainer Henk Grewe. The 4-year-old filly, who was second to Ghaiyyath last season, has compiled collateral form this term through the aforementioned Barney Roy (Lord North) and Dame Malliot (Tarnawa and Mehdaayih).

The Gestut Karlshof-bred sold for €100,000 as a yearling at Baden-Baden (BBAG) September. By unbeaten champion Teofilo, Donjah is out of Kentucky-bred Dyanamore, a stakes-placed Mt. Livermore mare who was a hardy handicapper in Italy with 49 career starts. Dyanamore comes from an extended family that’s had success in Central Europe, notably with multiple Group 1-winning German/Italian highweight Earl of Tinsdal.

Donjah won both starts as juvenile, over males, by a combined 10 1/2 lengths. Much the best despite fluffing the start in her Cologne debut, she shrugged off some early trouble to romp in the 2018 Herzog von Ratibor-Rennen (G3) at Krefeld.

So highly regarded was she going into her classic campaign that there was discussion of going for the 2019 German Derby/Oaks double. But a setback caused her to miss too much time. Then set to reappear in the Diana-Trial (G2) at Hoppegarten, she was scratched and not seen again until the classic itself at Dusseldorf. Trying the German Oaks (G1) off a nine-month layoff was quite a task, and Donjah checked in a wide-trip, one-paced sixth.

Donjah improved second up when best of the rest behind Ghaiyyath in last fall’s Grosser Preis von Baden (G1). Although not in the same zip code as the 14-length winner, she closed steadily to beat third-placer Laccario – the reigning German Derby winner and 9-5 favorite – by 4 1/2 lengths. The beaten favorite herself next out in the Preis von Europa (G1), she lay closer than usual in second early. Just as she launched her challenge, she was dispatched by British shipper Aspetar and ultimately reported home third.

A trip to Milan got Donjah back in the winner’s circle in last October’s Gran Premio del Jockey Club (G2). Sitting further back in fourth in a five-horse field, she had much more left for the finish as she sluiced home well clear on the heavy ground.

Two weeks later in the Grosser Preis von Bayern (G1), Donjah was fifth as the favorite among a more international cast. Hungarian star Nancho held on from British invaders Manuela de Vega and Antonia de Vega (who were split by Ashrun in the blanket finish). Donjah churned on the inside, another length or so back, in her seasonal finale.

Similar to last year, Donjah likely needed her comeback run in the summer of 2020, but she came a lot closer this time. Bettors made her the favorite in the July 11 Grosser Hansa-Preis (G2), and she loomed in the stretch before flattening in fourth to a trio of race-fit rivals.

Donjah moved forward to score her signature win in the Aug. 15 renewal of the Preis von Europa, toppling favored Brits Barney Roy and Dame Malliot at odds of 15-1. Last rounding the far turn at Cologne, Donjah quickened widest of all in the stretch. She picked up better than Barney Roy in the soft, and looked to have the measure of pacesetter Dame Malliot. But her sophomore compatriot Kaspar proved tougher to get by. Donjah, giving Kaspar seven pounds, kept coming and managed to force her neck in front. Czech celebrity Nagano Gold, who’s had his moments in Britain and France, was sixth. Old foe Laccario trailed, but bounced back next out when second to Channel Maker in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1).

Donjah wasn’t able to confirm the form in her rematch with Barney Roy in the Sept. 13 Grosser Preis von Baden. The Godolphin veteran appreciated the ground being better (good-to-soft) at Baden-Baden, not to mention that the onetime top miler stood to benefit most when the race turned into a dash for home. Donjah closed for fourth, edging Durance (who had been second to Starship Jubilee in last year’s E.P. Taylor), in a race shape that was all against her.

Aside from the aforementioned formlines through Barney Roy and Dame Malliot, Donjah has other interlocking form through Torquator Tasso. Third as the favorite at Baden-Baden, Torquator Tasso was previously runner-up in the German Derby won by In Swoop (see Mogul), and he’s since come back to win the Oct. 3 Grosser Preis von Berlin (G1).

Donjah’s stamina would come into play in the Breeders' Cup Turf if a strong pace develops on softish going. Judging from her bits of collateral form, though, she’d still need to reach a new personal best to crack the top three.