Great Britain Preview: Little Big Bear can upset Auguste Rodin in 2000 Guineas

May 5th, 2023

It’s a day for crowns on both sides of the Atlantic on Saturday.

As King Charles III prepares to have one placed on his head, and Kentucky Derby (G1) runners begin their quest for a United States Crown of the Triple variety, English horses face the first leg of their Triple Crown, the 2000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket.

Since Sir Barton became the first U.S. Triple Crown winner in 1919, there have been a further 12 horses to win the Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness (G1), and Belmont (G1). It’s not exactly a large number in 104 years, but Triple Crown winners are even rarer in Britain. In that 104-year period, there have been just two in Britain: Bahram in 1935 and Nijinsky in 1970.

Whether any horse has a serious chance of joining them in 2023 is debatable, but trainer Aidan O’Brien, who went close with Camelot in 2012, isn’t completely abandoning the idea. When asked about 2000 Guineas favorite #1 Auguste Rodin, he said “If we have a horse who could do the Triple Crown, he would definitely be the one”.

2,000 Guineas Selections

  • #10 Little Big Bear
  • #1 Auguste Rodin
  • #13 Sakheer
  • #12 Royal Scotsman

2,000 Guineas Wagers

  • $10 win/$30 show: #10 Little Big Bear ($40)
  • $1 Trifecta: 10 with 1,12,13 with 1,2,11,12,13 ($12)
  • $2 Trifecta: 1 with 10,13 with 2,10,11,12,13 ($16)

Auguste Rodin was extremely impressive as a juvenile and was made favorite for the 1 1/2-mile Derby (G1) after winning the one-mile Vertem Futurity (G1) at Doncaster. As a son of Deep Impact and the high-class Galileo mare Rhododendron, he seems to have abundant stamina. But can he cope with a fast mile at Newmarket?

In all likelihood, Auguste Rodin will be a strong contender. But I’m more interested in his stablemate #10 Little Big Bear. The highest-rated juvenile in Europe, Little Big Bear showed speed in abundance when winning the six-furlong Phoenix (G1) in Ireland by seven lengths.

Clearly the big question over Little Big Bear is stamina. He hasn’t raced past 6 1/2 furlongs, and his racing style certainly raises doubts about his ability at one mile. But a look at his pedigree gives a lot of hope. His sire No Nay Never has produced four top-level winners at one mile or farther (Alcohol Free, Meditate, Brooke, and Madame Pommery), and his dam Adventure Seeker, by the stamina influence Bering, has produced three winners at distances of 1 1/4 miles and beyond.

All this is enough for me to give Little Big Bear a realistic chance at staying one mile. If he can use his speed to get away down the Dip at Newmarket, he will take some catching.

The best of the others might well be #13 Sakheer, the impressive Mill Reef (G2) winner Sept. 17. #2 Chaldean was a top juvenile but is hard to assess after unseating Frankie Dettori in the Greenham (G3) two weeks ago, while #12 Royal Scotsman may appreciate the step up to one mile. Charlie Appleby has two interesting runners, but there are questions over them regarding stamina (#11 Noble Style) and class (#14 Silver Knott).