November 26, 2020

Aunt Pearl runs them ragged in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

Aunt Pearl
Aunt Pearl wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Coady Photography)

Two years after Newspaperofrecord crushed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) on the front end, another Irish-bred daughter of Lope de Vega – Aunt Pearl – did the same in the $920,000 renewal on Future Stars Friday at Keeneland.

Trained by Brad Cox and piloted by Florent Geroux, Aunt Pearl has left no mystery regarding her intentions. The 280,000 guineas Tattersalls October yearling led at every call in her first two starts, her Churchill Downs premiere on Sept. 5 and the Oct. 7 Jessamine (G2) in stakes-record time on this course.

Any thought that Aunt Pearl might face a pace rival in the Juvenile Fillies Turf was dispelled quickly. The 2.60-1 favorite zipped clear through an opening quarter in :22.55 on the good turf, and it turned into a procession from there as she reeled off splits of :47.30 and 1:12.21. Campanelle, the joint 9-2 second choice, tracked a couple of lengths back in second until losing ground down the lane.

Aidan O’Brien’s Mother Earth produced the most eye-catching finish from far back to take second, but Aunt Pearl still had a healthy 2 1/2-length margin at the wire. Another Irish raider, Miss Amulet, was another neck astern in third.

A further two lengths back came Campanelle, who just salvaged fourth from fellow 9-2 chance Plum Ali, Spanish Loveaffair, Editor at Large, Madone, and Oodnadatta in a bunched finish in midpack. There was a little more separation among the remainder of the field – Nazuna, Invincible Gal, Alda, Royal Approval, and Union Gables. Tetragonal was scratched, along with also-eligible Snowfall.

Aunt Pearl completed the mile in 1:35.71, 0.10 better than Fire at Will in the preceding Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), to give Cox his fourth Breeders’ Cup trophy. But his total was soon to rise to five with Essential Quality starring next in the Juvenile (G1). His first success came courtesy of champion Monomoy Girl in the 2018 Distaff (G1), and she’ll try to regain her crown Saturday on what could become an even bigger weekend for the barn.

“That was a devastating performance,” Cox said. “She is an amazing filly. Very proud of her. Speed is her weapon and she knows how to use it. I was pretty confident when I saw the :47 and (Geroux) obviously knows her well.”

“I know she is extremely fast,” Geroux said. “I just tried to get away good. She was off to a flying start. She went pretty quick early on, and after that I tried to get her to relax. On the backside she came back to me. When I asked her, she had plenty left. She’s extremely talented. I think the sky is the limit for her. Over the winter, hopefully she’ll grow a little bit and next year we can do it again.”

Ryan Moore on Mother Earth had a similar trip to his belated second aboard Battleground in the Juvenile Turf, and his comments were similar too.

“I had a lovely trip. She’s a nice filly – delighted with her. She’s a nice filly for next year,” Moore summed up.

Miss Amulet’s team was pleased, although jockey Julien Leparoux noted that she was further back than he wanted.

“I wish she had gotten better position on the first turn,” Leparoux said. “After that we got a clean trip. It was a very good performance and she made that big run in the stretch.”

“We’re delighted with her run,” trainer Ken Condon said of Miss Amulet. “She’s run a big race after a busy season and is extremely reliable as well as being talented. I’m sure we will have plenty to look forward to next season.”

Campanelle’s rider, Frankie Dettori, thought the mile was a bit too far.

“I had a great trip – followed the winner. I got to the seven furlongs, but couldn’t get the mile.”

Now 3-for-3 by a combined margin of 10 lengths, Aunt Pearl has bankrolled $652,784. The bay races for the ownership consortium of Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Peter Deutsch, Michael Kisber, The Elkstone Group, and Bethlehem Stables (which came aboard after the Jessamine).

Bred by Ecurie des Charmes and sire Lope de Vega’s home of Ballylinch Stud, Aunt Pearl is out of Scandinavian champion Matauri Pearl. The Hurricane Run mare is a full sister to multiple Grade/Group 3 scorer and Grade/Group 1-placed Wekeela. Further on the page, one finds Molly Malone, the 2012 Prix du Cadran (G1) winner and dam of top European staying mare Morgan Le Faye; dual French classic hero Brametot; and influential German sire Monsun.