After overturning supermare Enable in the July 5 Eclipse Stakes (G1), Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath takes on another distaff star, Magical, in Wednesday’s Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) at York. The about 1 5/16-mile prize is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, not for the Turf (G1), but offering a free ticket to the Classic (G1) on the Keeneland dirt.
Ghaiyyath rates as the strong favorite riding a three-race winning streak. Although the Charlie Appleby trainee has always been highly regarded, as his 8-for-11 mark implies, he’s blossomed as a 5-year-old this season. The bold front runner has carried his form forward from the Dubai Carnival, where he trounced them in the Feb. 20 Dubai Millennium (G3), to the British summer. Ghaiyyath turned in a course-record performance in the June 5 Coronation Cup (G1), transferred to Newmarket, and made the most of his recency edge over comebacker Enable at Sandown.
York should play to his strengths as a gallopers’ course. If Ghaiyyath can book a spot in the Classic, it might be a tempting option for the son of Dubawi whose progeny have been known to act on dirt.
Magical is eligible to put up a more robust challenge, however, than the carefully handled Enable did. This marks the third start of her campaign for Aidan O’Brien, and the Galileo mare has posted front-running victories in the June 28 Pretty Polly (G1) and July 26 Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1). The six-time Group 1 heroine renews acquaintance with Ryan Moore for the first time since they teamed up to take last fall’s Irish Champion (G1).
John Gosden sends out the much-improved Lord North, who extended his skein to three in the Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot. Another progressive son of Dubawi, the gelding tries to stay hot off the two-month break, while tackling a more fearsome “big two.”
Flying the flag for the classic generation is Kameko, the 2000 Guineas (G1) hero who hopes that this trip is just right. A non-staying fourth in the Derby (G1), the Andrew Balding trainee was a luckless fourth back down to a mile in the Sussex (G1). Kameko has evoked comparisons to Roaring Lion, as a Kitten’s Joy colt sporting the Qatar Racing silks. But he’ll need to move forward to emulate Roaring Lion’s stunning victory in the 2018 Juddmonte.
Interestingly, Qatar Racing just bought 3-year-old filly Rose of Kildare with a long-term view toward her joining their broodmare band. She’ll continue to race, though, for Kingsley Park 14. As a 7-1 winner of the Musidora (G3) at this course and distance in her own division, the Mark Johnston trainee faces a tall task here. It wouldn’t be a surprise if her early speed is enlisted on behalf of Kameko.
Aspetar, most recently successful in the York (G2), was scratched due to unsatisfactory bloodwork.
The five-horse Juddmonte International is set to go off at 10:15 a.m. (ET) Wednesday.
Two other Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events are on tap later during the Ebor Festival, both featuring odds-on favorites. O’Brien’s dual classic winner Love is the marquee name in Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks (G1), which dangles a berth in the Filly & Mare Turf (G1). She won’t meet Enable, who’s using the September Stakes (G3) at Kempton as her Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) warm-up. On Friday, speed machine Battaash defends his title in the Nunthorpe Stakes (G1), part of the Challenge series for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).