June 22, 2024

Enable routs Irish Oaks; Angel heavenly as Caravaggio beaten in July Cup

Enable, pictured at Epsom, is still odds-on for the Arc with most bookmakers (Photo courtesy Andy Watts/RacingFotos.com via Epsom Facebook)

Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Enable furthered her claim to be Europe’s top 12-furlong three-year-old with an imperious display in Saturday’s Irish Oaks (G1). Earlier in Newmarket’s July Cup (G1), however, the sprint division witnessed a shake-up as odds-on Caravaggio was a non-threatening fourth to Harry Angel.

Enable had been emphatic in the June 2 Oaks (G1) at Epsom, where she stormed home by five lengths in stakes-record time. The John Gosden filly thrived off a searching pace that day, but she proved equally effective stalking a more typical tempo at the Curragh.

Jockey Frankie Dettori said he’d rushed his comeback from a fractured shoulder in order to maintain the partnership, and Enable took care of him in turn by giving him an armchair ride. A strong-traveling second early, the 2-5 favorite swept past pacesetter Bengala in upper stretch and turned the classic into the proverbial procession. Enable drew 5 1/2 lengths clear in a final time of 2:32.13 on the good-to-firm course, reportedly becoming the 14th filly to turn the Oaks double.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Rain Goddess was best of the rest by two lengths from Eziyra, an Aga Khan homebred from the Dermot Weld yard. Coronet, the winner’s stablemate who was coming off a score in the Ribblesdale (G2), rallied from last to take fourth. That was somewhat closer than Coronet got two starts back at Epsom, where she didn’t handle the course very well and checked in a distant fifth. Alluringly, in contrast, has lost her form since her third at Epsom, winding up sixth in the Ribblesdale and filled the same spot in the Irish Oaks. Bengala faded to ninth, beating only her John Oxx stablemate Naughty or Nice.

Enable’s superb performances in both Oaks are more compelling than what we’ve seen so far from the three-year-old colts, who have produced blanket finishes in the Derby (G1), the Irish equivalent, and Friday’s Grand Prix de Paris (G1) (where Derby also-ran Permian lost a heartbreaking photo to the Aga Khan’s Shakeel). Hence she’s a ripe contender for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), for which she may now be supplemented.

In the meantime, Enable has options of whether to tackle older males, including defending champion Highland Reel, in the July 29 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) at Ascot, or to try her elders in the distaff ranks in the August 24 Yorkshire Oaks (G1).

From the first crop of multiple highweight Nathaniel, nearly a two-time King George winner but for Danedream’s nostril, Enable is out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Concentric. Her Group 3-placed, stakes-winning dam is a full sister to Group 2 vixen and classic-placed Dance Routine, who produced champion Flintshire.

Enable, winner of the Cheshire Oaks en route to Epsom, was bred to improve with distance and maturity. Dettori believes that she progressed between Epsom and the Curragh:

If the Irish Oaks gave clarity in its sphere, the July Cup has re-opened debate about the best three-year-old sprinter after Godolphin’s Harry Angel turned the tables on hitherto undefeated Caravaggio.

The climax of Newmarket’s July Festival promised to be a classic. Not only were the young guns stepping up versus the older brigade, but the July Cup offered unusual depth as a clash between the principals from each of Royal Ascot’s premier six-furlong races. Caravaggio and Harry Angel were the top two from the Commonwealth Cup (G1), while veterans The Tin Man, Tasleet, and Limato represented the Diamond Jubilee (G1) trifecta. Moreover, Limato was mounting a title defense here as the 4-1 second choice, and The Tin Man owned a prior Group 1 laurel in the British Champions Sprint (G1). This was a championship-caliber renewal in the midst of the summer season, and O’Brien’s Caravaggio was widely forecast to remain perfect through his new challenge.

But favorite backers had cause for concern right out of the gate, for the 10-11 Caravaggio broke a beat slow. While he recovered to race within striking position off the pace, he was unable to summon his usual verve, and Ryan Moore began to niggle him.

Harry Angel, who had gone too hard early in the Commonwealth Cup, harnessed his early speed more effectively this time for Adam Kirby. Although still taking quite a hold attending Caravaggio’s pacesetter, Intelligence Cross, Harry Angel had all his cards left to play as they hurtled to the final quarter-mile. The Clive Cox trainee picked up strongly and struck the front, but the chasing Limato wasn’t gaining on him despite being asked in earnest. Neither was Caravaggio finding enough toward the stands’ side rail.

Proving Cox right that “a different track and a different day” could yield a different result, Harry Angel held sway by 1 1/4 lengths while finishing six good-to-firm furlongs in 1:11.25.

Limato held runner-up honors by a half-length from 28-1 Brando, who headed Caravaggio for third. Intelligence Cross stuck on better than expected for a 100-1 rabbit in fifth. The Tin Man and Tasleet failed to perform up to their Royal Ascot form in eighth and last of 10, respectively. Tasleet’s trainer, William Haggas, had a scruple about the ground beforehand.

Harry Angel missed by a nose in his debut as a juvenile, then broke his maiden in the Mill Reef (G2) at Newbury. Too rank when second in his reappearance in the May 3 Pavilion (G3), he still shaped with promise. Harry Angel was spotting four pounds to the winner, Godolphin’s Blue Point, who broke the course record. In his ensuing start, Harry Angel scored a course record-setting win of his own in the Sandy Lane (G2) at Haydock.

The Godolphin brain trust was suitably impressed and swooped in to buy the Dark Angel colt from owner Peter Ridgers. Remaining in the Cox yard, Harry Angel sported his new silks in the Commonwealth Cup, where he beat all bar Caravaggio, and had the satisfaction of reversing form with Blue Point.

Cox mentioned the Haydock Sprint Cup (G1) on September 9, a return to the scene of his Sandy Lane heroics, as a likely target.

Harry Angel sold for £44,000 at the DBS Premier Yearling Sales. His dam, the Cadeaux Genereux mare Beatrix Potter, is a half-sister to Hong Kong’s two-time Champions Mile (G1) hero Xtension.

Although O’Brien was out of luck with Caravaggio, consolation was provided by promising juvenile Gustav Klimt in the Superlative (G2). Despite a nightmare passage in traffic, the odds-on favorite showed a sparkling set of gears to keep maneuvering until he threaded through on the far rail. Had he not shaded Nebo at the wire, Gustav Klimt would have been dreadfully unlucky.

A full brother to Group 3 scorer Wonderfully, Cuff, and ill-fated Group 1-placed Mars, the Galileo colt is also a half-brother to Italian highweight Nayarra (by Cape Cross). They are all out of the Group 2-placed stakes heroine Massarra, a Danehill half-sister to Invincible Spirit and a full sibling to Kodiac.

O’Brien also won the juvenile stakes on the Irish Oaks undercard, the Anglesey (G3), with Actress. By beating the boys Theobald and odds-on Brother Bear, the 7-1 chance became the first black-type winner for freshman sire Declaration of War.

Another Ballydoyle juvenile worth watching is The Pentagon, who crushed the Curragh’s opener by 8 1/2 lengths. His seven-furlong time of 1:22.89 was just .51 off what older handicappers clocked in the very next race.

By Galileo and out of the Group 1-winning Unfuwain mare Vadawina, The Pentagon is a half to Group 2 hero Vadamar (by Dalakhani) from the further family of Group 1 stars Valixir and Vadamos as well as 2001 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) victor Val Royal.