June 1, 2023

Enable hurls back Magical in Yorkshire Oaks, eyes Arc three-peat

Two-time Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) queen Enable ran her way into the history books by completing the Arc/Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) double in the same year at Churchill Downs on November 3, 2018, under Frankie Dettori (Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

The star of the show on “Enable Day” at York reigned supreme from a flying start to a powerful finish in Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks (G1), with only a brief challenge from Magical to add a touch of suspense. But Enable repelled her familiar rival and drew clear, setting the stage for her attempt at an unprecedented three-peat in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1).

Regular rider Frankie Dettori and trainer John Gosden wisely preferred to keep the tactics simple in her final start in Great Britain. The class as well as the speed of the short four-horse field, Enable was of the same mindset as she darted right out of the gate in front. Stablemate Lah Ti Dar followed, and Magical was reserved in third ahead of fellow Aidan O’Brien trainee, the no-hoper South Sea Pearl.

Enable galloped with her customary gusto, and Dettori’s confident glance back as they entered the long stretch told the tale. Magical traveled better than Lah Ti Dar as they crept closer to the favorite and accordingly posed the main danger – such as it was.

Dettori didn’t ask Enable in earnest until Magical was at her throat latch. The two battled for a few strides, but Enable was merely stoking the engine. Once reaching top gear, she had far too much for Magical. Her margin of victory – 2 3/4 lengths – was greater than when Magical chased her home in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) and the July 6 Eclipse (G1).

The top two were in a race of their own. Lah Ti Dar crossed the wire 10 lengths behind in third, and South Sea Pearl was just 1 1/2 lengths away from a Group 1 placing.

The winner of 12 straight, and 13 of 14 lifetime, Enable used a five-length romp in the 2017 Yorkshire Oaks to propel her to her first Arc. An injury-delayed 2018 campaign left her time for a single Arc prep, the September (G3) at Kempton, where she handily defeated Crystal Ocean. Enable had to pull out all the stops to see him off in their rematch in the July 27 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1). When Crystal Ocean was upset in Wednesday’s Juddmonte International (G1), just worn down by Japan, there was some chatter about whether that portended anything for Enable on Thursday. Clearly not.

Enable compiled an historic resume at three as the first to sweep the Oaks (G1), Irish Oaks (G1), and King George in 2017. She’s enhanced her lofty status as a two-time winner of both the Arc and King George, and her second Yorkshire Oaks title increased her career Group 1 haul to 10.

Another Breeders’ Cup, however, is reportedly off the table. Enable wasn’t going to use the Yorkshire Oaks’ “Win and You’re In” ticket for the Filly & Mare Turf (G1) in any event, but connections have quashed any ideas of a repeat bid in the Turf as well.

As the only reigning Arc winner to win a Breeders’ Cup race, Enable has already carved out her own niche in its history. Now the racing world eagerly awaits to see if the Juddmonte homebred can add to her legacy by becoming the first horse to win three Arcs.

Gosden isn’t taking anything for granted at ParisLongchamp October 6:

“This was a nice stepping stone to the Arc, but I’m very aware of the three-year-old colts. We saw a nice one win here in Japan and Jean-Claude (Rouget) has a nice horse (Sottsass) who won the Prix du Jockey Club – I thought he looked exceptional.

“She’s got tough competition from the three-year-old boys and there’s always going to be a sneaky three-year-old filly in there, that’s for sure.

“If she runs back to what she did in the Arc as a three-year-old, which she looks like she is showing today, she might by tough to beat, but I do emphasize watch out for the three-year-olds.”