Breeders' Cup International Scouting Report: Equilateral

December 31st, 2020

All cautionary notes to internationals for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint apply to Equilateral, who hasn’t hit Glass Slippers’ heights. But there is one angle worth pointing out: he’s often at his best when fresh. A 49-day break could be enough for him to fire for trainer Charlie Hills, winner of the 2013 Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) with Chriselliam.

A Juddmonte-bred by Equiano, sire of 2019 Turf Sprint queen Belvoir Bay, Equilateral was acquired by Fitri Hay this summer. His dam, Tarentaise, is an Oasis Dream half-sister to past Juddmonte notables Cityscape and Bated Breath. Other near relations include the more stamina-laden Logician, hero of last year’s St Leger (G1), all descending from the Best in Show tribe.

Equilateral has labored in the shadow of older stablemate Battaash throughout his career, but he has shown flashes of talent himself. He rolled in his career debut at Bath as a juvenile, then trailed in a York novice when coming up lame in his left front, and called it a season.

His pattern of starring off the bench was firmly established with an eight-length wire job in his sophomore reappearance at Doncaster in 2018. Hills was ambitious enough to pitch him into Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup (G1), but he disappointed and ended up scoping dirty afterward. His retrieval mission in the Hackwood (G3) didn’t work either.

After a 52-day break, Equilateral thrived on a drop in class and trip to take a 5-furlong conditions race at Leicester. Fourth when wheeling back for Newbury’s World Trophy (G3) on soft, he was fourth again in the Mercury (G3) on Dundalk’s Polytrack around a turn, never switching leads for the length of the stretch. His skid continued into 2019, with a third in the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster and a retreating fourth in the Abernant (G3) at Newmarket.

Equilateral fared better reverting to 5 furlongs in the Palace House (G3), only just collared late by the top-class mare Mabs Cross. While he couldn’t take advantage of the four pounds she was giving him, the rising ground at Newmarket likely found him out. Seventh to Blue Point and Battaash in last summer’s King’s Stand, Equilateral was sixth in the Sapphire (G2) at the Curragh.

Once again a 52-day break, and class relief, did the trick as Equilateral finally earned a stakes win in the Scarborough at Doncaster. Drafting just behind the leaders, he altered course and quickened best to get up by a head. But he couldn’t build on it with a quick turnaround for the World Trophy back at Newbury, where he wound up sixth.

Apparent that Equilateral was an underachiever, he was gelded last fall. The 5-year-old made a winning reappearance at the Dubai Carnival, landing the Jan. 23 Dubai Dash as much the best in :56.60.

Hopes that the operation had the desired effect, and that it wasn’t just his typical pattern, were dented when he was overturned next out in the Feb. 20 Meydan Sprint (G2). Waady – the very same old stager that Equilateral had dusted in the prior race, while spotting him five pounds – reversed form at level weights over the same trip. Equilateral loomed but lacked the killer blow, and Hills believed that the loose ground prevented him from getting traction. He was still pointing to the Al Quoz (G1) before COVID called off World Cup night.

Resurfacing in the June 16 King’s Stand (G1), Equilateral posted a new career-best in defeat when a respectful second to Battaash. He steered over to join Battaash’s group on the stands’ side, traveling very well at the rear before staying on to overtake Glass Slippers et al.

That was his finale in the Juddmonte silks, and his debut for Hay was a never-factoring ninth in the 6-furlong July Cup (G1). A week later he was back in his 5-furlong comfort zone for the City Walls at York, where he checked in fifth. If he didn’t have much room, it’s arguable he wasn’t going well enough to make his way.

Freshened for 57 days, Equilateral could have been forecast to run well in the Flying Five (G1). A slow start put him at a disadvantage, however, in a race that favored those racing handy, and he plugged on for sixth to Glass Slippers.

He was favored to bounce back six days later in the World Trophy, only the Newbury feature eluded him again. Equilateral darted to the inside to rally, then flattened slightly to go down by a length to Godolphin’s promising Lazuli.

With many more misses than hits on his resume, it takes an avowed Equilateral fan to keep the faith. The optimistic case for him is that he’s still only five, not that old for a sprinter, and perhaps the door has not totally closed on him living up to his early reputation. If he gets a decent start and his optimal quick conditions, it wouldn’t be a shock if he’s finishing well for Dettori.