September 25, 2018

Remembering Breeders’ Cup Mile diva Miesque

Miesque became the first two-time Breeders' Cup winner in the 1988 Mile at Churchill Downs (Horsephotos.com)

The rise of Alpha Centauri as Europe’s premier Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) contender evokes memories of Hall of Famer Miesque – not just because she’s another Niarchos homebred three-year-old filly. Alpha Centauri is a direct descendant of Miesque, the first dual Breeders’ Cup winner, through her champion daughter East of the Moon.

Miesque was trained by Francois Boutin like her parents, Nureyev and Pasadoble. Twice a French stakes winner over a mile herself, Pasadoble was by Prove Out, best known for upsetting Secretariat in the 1973 Woodward. Miesque’s rider, Freddie Head, would later train three-time Mile heroine Goldikova (2008-10), who elicited comparisons to his original Breeders’ Cup diva.

After a debut success at Deauville in August 1986, Miesque was third in the Prix Morny (G1), her only time ever out of the top two. Her vengeance was swift, and ruthless, on Morny winner Sakura Reiko in the Prix de la Salamandre (G1) and Prix Marcel Boussac (G1), clinching the French divisional championship.

Miesque began to build her Hall of Fame resume in 1987. After a prep score in the Prix Imprudence, she invaded Newmarket for the 1000 Guineas (G1). Her whirlwind finish has to be seen to be believed.

The classic double in the French equivalent, the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (G1), was at her mercy.

The about 1 5/16-mile Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1) stretched her stamina, but she was runner-up to a world-class foe in Indian Skimmer. Miesque rebounded back in her mile wheelhouse in the Prix Jacques le Marois (G1) and Prix du Moulin (G1), both over older males, and settled for second to familiar rival Milligram in the Queen Elizabeth II (G1) at Ascot.

The 1987 Breeders’ Cup Mile at old Hollywood Park elevated Miesque from European champion to global superstar. The hot pace in quick conditions, and a rail-skimming trip, set the stage for a course-record dazzler in 1:32.80.

Voted U.S champion turf female along with her French and English honors at three, Miesque added to her legend in 1988. She started off by brilliantly overcoming traffic in the about nine-furlong Prix d’Ispahan (G1).

Back at Deauville to defend her crown in the Marois, Miesque showcased a turn of foot superior to such luminaries as Warning and Soviet Star. Next time in the Moulin, an enterprising Soviet Star would thwart her repeat bid by a head, but he couldn’t live with a Miesque in full flight here.

Miesque returned stateside for another Breeders’ Cup tilt at Churchill Downs. Despite significantly different conditions from Hollywood Park – a wide trip behind a moderate pace on rain-affected ground – she was equally dominant. The distant second, future turf champion Steinlen, went on to win the 1989 Mile.

Retired with another divisional Eclipse Award and more laurels in France, Miesque boasted a career record of 16-12-3-1. She lived until the ripe old age of 27, passing away in January 2011, but her legacy has continued to grow with the passage of time.

Miesque became a great broodmare. Her first foal was French classic winner Kingmambo (by Mr. Prospector), the internationally influential sire of King Kamehameha, King’s Best, and Lemon Drop Kid as well as broodmare sire of hot young sire Camelot. Miesque’s next, East of the Moon (by Private Account), turned the Pouliches/Diane double that eluded her dam and tried the Breeders’ Cup Mile herself, finishing 12th in 1994 at Churchill.

Her third foal, a full brother to Kingmambo named Miesque’s Son, sired 2006 Mile champion Miesque’s Approval. Miesque’s fourth, Moon Is Up (by Woodman), is the granddam of 2014 Mile upsetter Karakontie. Other Miesque daughters to carry on the flame are Monevassia (another Mr. Prospector and ancestress of European champion Rumplestiltskin and Japan’s Real Steel) and Second Happiness (by Storm Cat and dam of current Prix du Jockey Club [G1] hero Study of Man).

Moreover, 2003 Mile heroine Six Perfections was out of Miesque’s half-sister Yogya. Thus if Alpha Centauri can emulate her great-granddam Miesque, she would be an incredible fifth Mile winner with Miesque’s bloodline.

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