Lovers of the Thoroughbred game, especially on the distaff side, were the big winners yesterday. Bettors were too since, Kentucky Derby notwithstanding, the upcoming Breeders’ Cup is the best betting event America has to offer.
It all began Saturday morning with a detailed dispatch from the Racing Post, informing horse lovers that the great John Gosden has the great Enable in position to try do the impossible.
“Enable is very happy and well,” Gosden told the Racing Post. “She has been fine since [her last race at] Kempton… The Arc is a massive task, a big mountain to climb again. If it had gone right last year, she obviously wouldn’t be trying to do it this year.”
At this posting, Enable is second favorite to another filly, three-year-old Love, trained by Aidan O’Brien and, of course, will get a significant weight concession from her elders. Gosden will saddle two in the world-famous event; the redoubtable stayer Stradivarius, second recently in his Arc de Triomphe prep.
At the moment the ground is quite firm, a bit unusual for the Paris layout, and Enable prefers it on the good side of firm. But she’s remarkably adaptable and Frankie Dettori will be aboard for next week’s important workout.
Should Enable make history and win her third Arc, it seems highly doubtful she would ship state-side for the BC Filly and Mare Turf but one can never say never in this game.
Clearly, Arnaud Delacour is thinking about it with Magic Attitude who impressed in her U.S. debut vs. three-year-olds, taking Saturday’s G1 Belmont Oaks with the kind of late kick one expects from a European invader.
While the competition was dubious by international standards, it was solid albeit light on quantity. But Galileo’s daughter certainly was not lacking in quality. She rated kindly, last in a slow-paced in compact field, and when a confident Javier Castellano tipped out at headstretch, she whooshed on by.
She may or may not be Grade-1 class vs. older, then that’s what weight concessions are for. The good news is that Keeneland’s coveted Queen Elizabeth II comes up in three weeks, but add four more and it’s Breeders’ Cup Saturday, excellent timing. “She’ll tell us,” Delacour said.
Saving the Best for Last
Contrary to what you may think, I didn’t bury the lead, just took time to consider how best to express my admiration for Starship Jubilee, defending Canadian Horse of the Year and certain repeater, whatever happens between the Woodbine Mile and November’s first Saturday.
This in no way is to throw shade on a female win machine such as the Wonder from Down Under, retired Australian champion Winx. How can you do that and still be considered sane?
Recall that Winx won 33 consecutive races over a five-year period, including a world-record 25 Group 1s, from 6-1/2 furlongs to a mile and three-eighths.
For three straight years she was ranked as the world’s top-ranked turf horse and co-ranked as the world’s top filly or mare while earning $26 million, Australian.
The quality of the competition and provincial nature of her campaign are nits to pick at, but she had me at 33 straight.
In this side of the ocean there was the Queen of the Southwest, Peppers Pride. She never ventured outside the borders of New Mexico, but undefeated is as undefeated does. No, she wasn’t Personal Ensign, then how many are?
Peppers Pride succumbed to laminitis exactly one year ago today. The record shows that she went 19-for-19. Fittingly, she was a daughter of Desert God and her grandmother was Blush With Pride. If names matter, then destiny was thrust upon her.
Sadly, it’s exactly one year to the day that Peppers Pride was euthanized due to complications from laminitis.
In taking the Woodbine Mile Saturday in Toronto, defeating several multiple stakes winning males including Grade 1 dual-surface Preakness winner War of Will, Starship Jubilee was winning her 19th race from 38 starts.
Further, she is the first horse to win both the Woodbine Mile and 10-furlong E.P. Taylor in successive years. Numerologists will note win #19 came on the 19th day of the month.
Karma and coincidence notwithstanding, the victory won her a free ride into the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Whether she runs or not, whether she wins or not, the seven-year-old rags-to-riches mare will continue enjoying legendary status in her homeland.
Starship Jubilee is a daughter of the sire Indy Wind who stands in Florida for $2,000. And, as everyone knows, she was a $16,000 claim by trainer Kevin Attard and his father, well respected horseman Tino Attard.
After compiling a laudable winning record, she was offered for sale for $34,000 but there were no takers. Once she became a prolific winner, she was consigned again three years later but the $425,000 reserve price was not attained.
According to Equibase, she was originally consigned for $6,500 in 2014. Following that second failed auction bid, the Attards sold the mare privately to current owners Blue Heaven Farm.
Yesterday’s victory put Starship Jubilee over the $2 million earnings mark she became only the third female to win the Woodbine Mile, the last one being Tepin four years ago.
Kevin Attard was emotional after the win, telling a national television audience that it’s “an unbelievable feeling,” and gratifying.
“This mare doesn’t get the respect she deserves,” he explained. “She’s a winner of 19 races out of 38 starts. “I was really disappointed to see her at 6-1 on the board … just kind of forgotten about. Time after time, she comes up and proves she’s a top horse in North America.”
Five for six this year, ‘Starship’ was laying in wait, positioned nicely by rider Justin Stein behind a solid pace as the field passed three-quarters in 1:09.12. Stein, who returned from a three-year retirement in 2019, warmed up for the ‘Mile’ by winning six races Friday.
Stein and the mare was among horses through the turn but found a seam soon after straightening away. The mare did the rest with a quick, strong turn of foot. She has won going farther but actually might prefer the faster pace of a one-turn mile.
“I waited for a chance to tip her out and ask her to run,” said Stein. “She’s so honest and wants to win more than anybody else out there. I watched her replays, she’s just gritty. She just waited for her cue and took off like a scalded cat.”
The final time of 1:32.06 over a firm course was .31 of a second off Wise Dan’s course record.
“It’s a special feeling to know that this race has produced so many horses that have gone on to win the Breeders’ Cup,” said Attard, “so I’m really ecstatic right now and that’s somewhere we’ve been aiming to go to all year long. This is just one step closer.”