July 18, 2024

Enable beats Magical again in Eclipse comeback

Coady Photography/Churchill Downs

Unraced in the eight months since her Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) triumph, and shortening up a quarter-mile in trip, superstar Enable repelled the same foe, Magical, by the same margin in Saturday’s Eclipse (G1) at Sandown. The odds-on favorite held sway by three-quarters of a length and extended her winning streak to 10, despite being only “85 percent, maybe 90,” trainer John Gosden said afterward.

Enable, under a perfectly judged ride by Frankie Dettori, appeared to be in control throughout. Flanking Magical’s pacemaker, Hunting Horn, the Juddmonte homebred traveled with her customary aplomb. Indeed, Dettori commented that Enable was going so well that she wanted to dismiss the rabbit turning for home, but heeded his call for patience. That allowed the stalking Magical to draw closer in upper stretch, but unlike Enable, she was niggled along.

Once getting the cue, Enable pulled right away from Magical. Her game rival kept up the pursuit, and race-fitness came into play as the margin was reduced late. But try though she might, Magical never looked like getting there, and Enable was always finding enough in front to clock 2:04.77 on the good-to-firm course.

Aside from emulating her sire, Nathaniel, who likewise won the Eclipse first up for Gosden in 2012, Enable was filling a gap on her otherwise stellar resume. She’d suffered her only career loss at this 1 1/4-mile distance. Although that was more two years ago, in her sophomore debut at Newbury, Enable nonetheless proved a point here by racking up a major prize over the trip.

Also making a statement, albeit in defeat, was third-placer Regal Reality. In this first Group 1 attempt, the Sir Michael Stoute trainee rallied to beat the rest comfortably, and he’ll be heard from again at this level. Danceteria, the 50-1 longest shot on the board in Great Britain and 79-1 in our pool, closed from last to grab fourth from Mustashry. Hunting Horn was another neck back in sixth, trailed by three-year-old Telecaster and Zabeel Prince.

Enable has set herself up to regain her title in the July 27 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) at Ascot, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” back in her 1 1/2-mile wheelhouse. She demolished older males in the midsummer highlight in 2017, becoming the first filly to turn the hat trick of the Oaks (G1), Irish Oaks (G1), and King George. Enable continued her conquests in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1) and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1).

An injury in spring of 2018 ruled her out until the fall, when she used Kempton’s September (G3) as a tightener for her Arc repeat. She concluded her abbreviated campaign with a history-making performance in the Turf at Churchill Downs, defying the stat that no reigning Arc winner had captured a Breeders’ Cup race.

Enable’s supreme objective is an unprecedented three-peat in the Arc, a feat that Treve could not manage in 2015. We’re still three months away, with the King George and Juddmonte International (G1) to be contested in the interim. But her Eclipse performance serves notice that she’ll be tough to dethrone at ParisLongchamp.