Del Mar Oaks international scouting report: Txope

August 19th, 2022

Fresh from selling for €1.2 million at Arqana’s Summer Sale, Txope hopes to give new owner Zhang Yuesheng a rapid return on investment in Saturday’s Del Mar Oaks (G1).

Her European form isn’t as obvious as that of Del Mar Oaks favorite Spendarella, who placed at Royal Ascot to champion Inspiral. But Txope does have respectable company lines, a fine pedigree, and most of all, the profile of one to excel in American conditions.

In fact, after her stylish score in the German 1000 Guineas (G2), original trainer Philippe Decouz had mentioned maybe aiming for a U.S. Grade 1 at some point in the second half of the season. Txope gets that chance now for John Sadler.

Txope’s pedigree

Bred by Haras Voltaire in France, Txope is a daughter of the outstanding Siyouni, sire of such European stars as Sottsass, St Mark’s Basilica, Laurens, Ervedya, and the budding Al Hakeem. Siyouni has also made a mark in North America through Sacred Life, most recently third in the Arlington Million; Grade 1 winner Etoile; and La Signare, who came closest to a Grade 1 laurel in last year’s Gamely (G1) at Santa Anita.

Txope’s dam, the multiple stakes-placed Power of the Moon, is herself half-sister by Acclamation (the British-bred) to Group 2 winner and successful producer Zinziberine. Txope’s second dam (granddam) is a full sister to French highweight stayer Amilynx. Interestingly, the family further back is American. Her fourth dam, Issues N’ Answers, was runner-up in the 1982 Del Mar Debutante (G2).

Initially sold for €310,000 as an Arqana yearling, Txope has hitherto sported the colors of Ecurie Griezmann – the nom de course of soccer star Antoine Griezmann. Txope is his wife Erika’s nickname, presumably revealing their regard for the lovely filly.

Txope’s juvenile campaign

Usually if a European filly runs eight times at two, I’m inclined to think that connections are maximizing a precocious type at her high-water mark. But Txope is the exception to that general rule, since she progressed through the season and reached a new top at three.

After placing second in her first three starts, Txope responded to the addition of cheekpieces, the step up to a metric mile, and good ground to win a Deauville conditions race last August. The pace was farcical in a five-filly field, but she accelerated to go last-to-first.

Txope stepped up in class for the Prix d’Aumale (G3) at Longchamp, but didn’t land a blow in sixth. Decouz told Jour de Galop that she was found to be in season, and he accordingly drew a proverbial line through the non-effort.

Sent right back into action later that month, Txope displayed her true class in a listed stakes at Cologne. The Ursula Rosendahl-Preis, dubbed the trial for the Winterkonigin (G3) (Germany’s marquee race for juvenile fillies), suited her well as an about 7 1/2-furlong event on good going. Under confident handling as the 2-1 favorite, Txope settled at the rear before quickening to a 1 3/4-length decision.

Up in grade again, but slightly back down in trip for the Prix Miesque (G3) at Chantilly, Txope outperformed her 18-1 odds when staying on for second. The winner, Mangoustine, eventually upset this spring’s Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) (G1) before winding up ninth (exiting footsore) behind Inspiral and Spendarella in the Coronation. Txope’s runner-up effort in the Miesque illustrated her improvement, since she turned the tables on a couple of rivals who’d beaten her earlier, notably Godolphin’s Fleur D’Iris.

Txope was sent off as the favorite in her 2021 finale, versus males in the Prix Herod, but did not run up to her best. She labored over Saint-Cloud’s heavy going and spun her wheels in an anticlimactic seventh.

The Herod remains of interest for the collateral form, especially via third-placer Tribalist, who went on to place in this spring’s Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) (G1). The Godolphin runner also missed narrowly to the Aga Khan’s exciting Erevann in the Prix Paul de Moussac (G3). The Prix Herod fourth, Breeze Easy, is now based with Christophe Clement; her stateside debut was a near-miss in the Soaring Softly (G3) to Wesley Ward’s highly-regarded Chardy Party, although Breeze Easy hasn’t built on that.

Txope at three

Txope was given early entries in the French fillies’ classics, both the Pouliches and the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1). Thus her comeback spot in the Mar. 16 Prix Montenica versus males, at an about 6 1/2-furlong trip short of her optimum, smacked of a low-key prep. She indeed ground her way into a workmanlike third on the Chantilly Polytrack.

The Apr. 7 Prix Imprudence (G3) would have been a better test of her classic aspirations, but a heavy course at Deauville didn’t help. Txope checked in fifth to Malavath, last year’s excellent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) second; Zellie, a Group 1 winner who would finish fourth in Newmarket’s 1000 Guineas (G1); and Group 2 scorer Accakaba, later a close fourth in the Prix Jean Prat (G1).

Txope reverted to listed company in the about seven-furlong Prix du Pont Neuf at Longchamp, where she nearly beat males. Arguably left in front too soon when the longtime leader stopped, the stalker was just run down by deep-closing favorite Toimy Son.

Back up in class and distance for the German 1000 Guineas, Txope got her prerequisites – a metric mile on good ground. The 5.70-1 shot worked out an advantageous ground-saving trip around the turning, triangular Dusseldorf, nestled just behind the leaders. She showed resolve in tight quarters to muscle between foes, and kicked away for her biggest win so far.

Fast-finishing second Mylady later tried the Deutches Derby (G1) versus the boys and wasn’t disgraced in midfield (10th of 20). She has since placed third in the Preis der Diana (German Oaks) (G1).

Beaten Guineas favorite Jumbly, a British shipper, had a tougher trip in sixth, so it wouldn’t be fair to take the form literally in her case. Yet it’s significant that Jumbly did bounce back next time in the Valiant (G3) at Ascot, edging a rock-solid yardstick in Oscula (who’s since won Group 3s at Glorious Goodwood and Deauville).

Txope’s Del Mar Oaks chances

In the wake of her June 12 glory in Germany, Txope was a late addition to the Arqana Summer Sale. She was a hot commodity as a well-bred classic winner on the upswing, and she understandably sparked a bidding war when touring the ring July 1.

While her €1.2 million price reflects her broodmare potential, the winning bidder isn’t turning the page on her racing career just yet. Michael Donohoe of BBA Ireland, acting on behalf of Yuesheng’s Yulong Investments, was already talking Del Mar at the sales pavilion.

“We're very tempted to send her to California for the Del Mar Oaks, that's at the end of August,” Donohoe told Racing Post after signing the ticket.

“She's got a lot of upside as she's a racing prospect and she'll be a lovely addition to the Yulong broodmare band in Australia at the end of her racing career. But we're very much looking forward to seeing her racing on and seeing what more she can achieve.”

Txope has recorded three works for Sadler, who told Andrew Brown that he’s pleased with how she’s settled in and prepared for the race. Sadler echoed connections’ comments about her preference for a tight track and firm turf.

The prospect of a smaller (by European standards), turning track was exactly what Decouz had invoked when first contemplating an American venture. She ought to handle 1 1/8 miles in these conditions, and a strong pace could help the sometimes rank filly to relax for Florent Geroux. Her abundant racecourse experience is another plus. Txope is eligible to find Del Mar as congenial as Germany, and that makes her a fascinating contender in an above-average Del Mar Oaks.