December 19, 2018

Team Valor’s new French recruit The Black Album aims for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf

The Black Album will join trainer Rodolphe Brisset after the Breeders' Cup (Photo courtesy Team Valor via Twitter)

Prix La Rochette (G3) hero The Black Album has been snapped up by Team Valor International as a prospect for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Jane Soubagné will continue to train the colt through the November 2 contest at Churchill Downs, and thereafter he will take up residence stateside with Rodolphe Brisset.

“This colt is just the right size for American racing, with tremendous athleticism,” Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin said in the press release. “He has the ability to lay handy, pounce instantly when asked and moxie to hold off all challengers the length of the stretch.

“What’s so darn exciting about this guy is that he has top form already. In fact, in all the years we’ve been doing this, we have never bought a European colt that was so highly ranked or accomplished as a juvenile.”

Campaigned by breeder Didien Bouquil and Florent Guy, The Black Album is ranked third on the French juvenile ratings. He began his career with a third in a newcomers’ event at his home track of La Teste de Buch. The winner, Harmless, went on to win his two ensuing starts including the Prix Roland de Chambure.

The Black Album likewise won his next two at the same venue and about six-furlong trip. After breaking his maiden decisively, he captured a conditions race over Monette, who came back to compliment The Black Album by scoring in the Criterium du Bequet.

Next came his own tilt at listed company, and a step up to another furlong, in the Prix Francois Boutin at Deauville, but The Black Album threw in his worst effort in fourth.

Soubagné diagnosed the reason, as reported in the Thoroughbred Daily News recap of the La Rochette:

“We already knew he needed further before winning over six in his third start at La Teste and that’s why we ran him in the Francois Boutin. I wasn’t disappointed with his run that day because his jockey revealed he was difficult to steer and we subsequently found he had a problem with his teeth. It required a minor operation to rectify and he did not hang at all today.”

The Black Album indeed galloped straight and true in the September 2 La Rochette. Digging in gamely at ParisLongchamp, the 16-1 shot prevailed in a three-way photo with last-out maiden winner Toijk and the Wertheimer homebred favorite Ecolo. Fourth-placer Lily’s Candle was coming off a victory in a listed race at Vichy, and the trailing We Go had finished third in the Prix de Cabourg (G3).

That effort moved him into the third spot in the French ratings for juveniles, about a pound off the joint leaders Anodor (the unbeaten Prix des Chenes [G3] hero) and the more exposed sprinter Sexy Metro.

Not nominated to the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) on Arc Day, The Black Album has the October 4 Prix Thomas Bryon (G3) as a tentative engagement, but he could skip Saint-Cloud and await the Breeders’ Cup. Regular rider Mickael Barzalona, aboard for his past four starts, has the call for the Juvenile Turf.

By Wootton Bassett, also the sire of European champion Almanzor, The Black Album is out of the winning Trade Fair mare Model Black, a half-sister to multiple Group 2 victor Trumpet Major. His third dam is German highweight Risen Raven, queen of the 1994 Preis der Diana (G2).

The Black Album sports an intriguing pedigree pattern. Inbred 3×3 to the brilliant Zafonic, he also has the Rasmussen Factor courtesy of a 4×4 duplication of champion and noted matron Park Appeal.