March 23, 2019

Wild Illusion, Royal Marine, Lily’s Candle earn Breeders’ Cup spots on Arc undercard

Godolphin scored a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” double on Arc Day at ParisLongchamp. While the Charlie Appleby-trained Wild Illusion may well take advantage of her ticket to the Filly & Mare Turf (G1), early indications are that Saeed bin Suroor’s Royal Marine may not advance to the Juvenile Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs. But Royal Marine earned points on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, raising the prospect of a possible spin on the dirt in Dubai.

Wild Illusion, the 13-5 favorite in the Prix de l’Opera (G1), was confirming her appreciation for the about 1 1/4-mile trip.

Since capturing the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) over a metric mile on the 2017 Arc undercard, the Dubawi filly had been searching for her ideal distance. The mile of the 1000 Guineas (G1) proved inadequate in her reappearance, where she finished fourth, but 1 1/2 miles proved a shade too far as she placed second in the Oaks (G1) and Ribblesdale (G2). The middle road of 1 1/4 miles was just right in the August 2 Nassau (G1) at Glorious Goodwood last out, and Wild Illusion made it two in a row here. Under regular rider William Buick, she was better placed early than Aidan O’Brien’s Magic Wand, and accordingly defeated her by a length.

Royal Marine, a 5-1 chance, had received a form boost ahead of the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1). The promising colt he’d beaten in his September 14 maiden win at Doncaster, Turgenev, has since come back to win his next two, including a Newmarket novice under 134 pounds on Saturday. It was arguable that Turgenev had improved in the interim, but so had Royal Marine, who dismissed a pair of Group-proven rivals.

O’Brien’s Broome, runner-up to the exciting Madhmoon in the “Win and You’re In” KPMG Champions Juvenile (G2) over Irish Champions Weekend, carved out the pace and did not wilt. Royal Marine simply outfinished him to the line, forcing his neck in front for jockey Oisin Murphy.

Finishing third was the 4-5 favorite, previously undefeated Prix des Chenes (G3) hero Anodor, and Boitron also lost his perfect record in fourth. The respective top four garnered Derby points on the 10-4-2-1 scale on the European Road leaderboard, and the connections’ post-race quotes all indicated they’re looking forward to 2019 with their classic prospects.

In contrast, the Prix Marcel Boussac promises to have an impact on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), after Martin Schwartz’s 11th-hour purchase Lily’s Candle got up late in the “Win and You’re In.” Her time for the metric mile on good turf, 1:38.98, was marginally quicker than Royal Marine’s 1:39.10.

Just snared for 390,000 Saturday evening at the Arqana Arc Sale, Lily’s Candle furnished a quick return on investment. The 27-1 longshot went last to first to edge Matematica and Star Terms in a bunched finish, handing trainer Fabrice Vermeulen his first Group 1 score. The 29-1 Lagrandecatherine took fourth, while O’Brien’s front-running Pink Dogwood yielded in fifth. Next came 8-5 favorite Rocques, suffering her first loss, and the Godolphin duo of Dubai Beauty and Ceratonia.

Lily’s Candle was piloted by Pierre-Charles Boudot, who was also aboard for her prior stakes coup in the Prix des Jouvenceau et des Jouvencelles at Vichy. That came versus males, as did her most recent fourth in the Prix La Rochette (G3) to Team Valor’s Juvenile Turf contender The Black Album.

Boudot later completed a Group 1 double aboard another longshot, the 47-1 filly One Master, in the Prix de la Foret (G1). The about seven-furlong affair lacked its star power of old, opening the door for Lael Stables’ homebred to mug the Godolphin pair of Inns of Court and Dutch Connection. O’Brien’s Gustav Klimt found traffic en route to his close fourth, and 6-4 favorite Polydream had a troubled passage in sixth. Tornibush folded to eighth, while early leader James Garfield retreated to a dead-heat 11th of 15.

Trained by William Haggas, whose Sea of Class agonizingly missed catching Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), One Master was exiting a stakes breakthrough in the Fairy Bridge (G3) at Tipperary.

The about five-furlong Prix de l’Abbaye (G1) went to British filly Mabs Cross in a last-gasp thriller over Gold Vibe, gallant two-year-old Soldier’s Call duking it out versus older veterans, and favored Battaash. Mabs Cross, an 11-1 overlay ridden by Gerald Mosse, deserved this Group 1 laurel after a brutal beat by a pixel in the Nunthorpe (G1).

Although the winner will call it a season, Soldier’s Call has long had the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in his datebook. Judging by how his pupil went toe-to-toe with Battaash before just getting caught, trainer Archie Watson has every right to go on to Louisville all being well.