Breeders' Cup International Scouting Report: Mogul

December 31st, 2020

Coming off a new career high for O’Brien, in a race that subsequently worked out very well in the Arc, Mogul brings obvious appeal on form. But will it matter that he arrives for the Breeders' Cup Turf after missing the Arc, in an unforeseeable curveball that had nothing to do with him or his well-being?

Mogul has been in the spotlight from his youth, when commanding 3.4 million guineas as a Tattersalls October yearling. The latest in the series of siblings by Galileo and out of the Danehill mare Shastye, he’s a full brother to Secret Gesture, Sir Isaac Newton, and last year’s top European 3-year-old Japan, who captured the Grand Prix de Paris (G1) and defeated elders in the Juddmonte International (G1).

Ballydoyle juveniles often need a first run, so it was a positive that Mogul was the favorite in his unveiling last summer at Gowran, where he was second. He made the expected improvement next time at the Curragh, leading throughout as the odds-on choice and extending his margin over the useful Shekhem.

The 1-2 favorite in the KPMG Champions Juvenile (G2) at Leopardstown, Mogul looked a bit green trying to settle off the pace, but soon got the hang of it. He made his move in the stretch and safely held the smart Sinawann all the way to the line. The ensuing step was the Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1), only it was postponed due to waterlogging at Doncaster and transferred to Newcastle’s Tapeta. We’ll never know if Mogul might have done better on turf, but the change of venue did not favor him as he was a one-paced fourth behind the imperious Kameko (Mile).

More radical reshuffling was to come this spring with COVID wrecking the calendar, delaying the usual build-up to the season and pushing the Derby (G1) to July 4. O’Brien freely cautioned that Mogul was not cranked for his Derby prep race, and he’d come on for the tightener. In the novel circumstances, that came at Royal Ascot in the King Edward VII (G2). Mogul indeed looked ring-rusty as he offered a mild rally into contention before flattening out in fourth.

Eligible to do better at Epsom, Mogul kept Ryan Moore aboard among all the Ballydoyle entrants, only none got near his unheralded stablemate Serpentine in a stunning wire job. Mogul at one point appeared on the verge of working his way into fourth on the inside, but ended up sixth in the blanket finish behind the winner.

The third start off the layoff was finally the charm for Mogul in the Gordon (G3) at Glorious Goodwood. Staying on best of all late, he reversed form with a couple from Epsom, although Moore described him as still “babyish.” O’Brien mentioned that the Grand Prix de Paris, delayed to Sept. 13 due to the pandemic, was likely next on the agenda.

Instead of going straight to Paris, however, Mogul took a detour at York for the Great Voltigeur (G2). His bandwagon filled up, but he let down favorite backers again in a tame third behind his Royal Ascot nemesis Pyledriver. While he might have sat a bit too close to the pace, it’s also tempting to see this as giving him something to do ahead of his Grand Prix objective.

Mogul was primed to produce in the Grand Prix, emulating brother Japan’s victory but in more emphatic style. Pierre-Charles Boudot picked up the mount, and following O’Brien’s instructions to wait to unleash him, he gave Mogul a patient ride. The blueblood swooped to conquer in a swift 2:24.76 – faster than Tarnawa’s in the Vermeille (2:26.42) the same day – and left the quietly prepping Serpentine in fourth.

The Arc was the most logical place to go, and Mogul was all set for a return visit Oct. 4. Then the bombshell news of contaminated feed led to the withdrawal of all the Ballydoyle horses for Arc Day.

As Mogul stayed home, the two placegetters from the Grand Prix, In Swoop and Gold Trip, paid him a handsome compliment in the Arc. In Swoop was runner-up again, just a neck off the victorious Sottsass, and Grand Prix third Gold Trip was a close fourth.

Off that evidence, Mogul could be aggrieved at missing out on a possible Arc victory. On the other hand, his signature wins have come with a strong pace on good ground, neither of which was on offer in a sedate Arc on heavy. Indeed, O’Brien said last week that it might have been better that he did miss such a slog on tough going.

Mogul was pegged as a Breeders’ Cup candidate as soon as the Arc was a no-go. If he’s a leading chance at his best, Mogul also appears to need things to fall into place. And as one who’s thrived on activity, his hiatus since Sept. 13 adds another variable.