April 15, 2024

Love, Mishriff clash in Juddmonte International for BC Classic berth

Mishriff edges out Charlatan to win the Saudi Cup (Coady Photography)

Juddmonte International (G1) — Race 4 (10:35 a.m. ET)

Wednesday’s Juddmonte International (G1), the centerpiece of the four-day Ebor Festival at York, England, will offer to its winner an automatic berth in the the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar in November. The about 1 1/4-mile grass test was dealt a blow early Monday when St Mark’s Basilica, who was expected to start as a heavy favorite, was not declared by trainer Aidan O’Brien.

“(Sunday) morning he lost a front shoe and it came back and hit his hind leg – his near-hind joint,” O’Brien said regarding the winner of the French 200 Guineas (G1), French Derby (G1), and Eclipse (G1). “We didn’t think a lot of it, but this morning there was a little bit of swelling in it – and when we took bloods off him, his bloods came back and it was a little bit infected.

“We were a bit taken aback when we saw it this morning, but when we did the bloods then we didn’t have any choice as he needs to go on antibiotics and the antibiotics that he’s going to go on obviously he couldn’t run on. Hopefully we’ll be back on target towards the end of this week and if we are, we’ll be able to train him for the Irish Champion (G1).”

The outstanding four-year-old filly Love will instead represent the Ballydoyle juggernaut in the International after being re-routed from next weekend’s Prix Jean Romanet (G1) at Deauville. Love was a game winner of the Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot in her season debut, but was only third best behind Epsom Derby (G1) hero Adayar in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (G1) last time.

Love was a decisive five-length winner of the 2020 Yorkshire Oaks (G1) in her only prior appearance on the Knavesmire.

King George runner-up Mishriff could make the Interational a legitimate Classic prep, given his victory last winter in the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1). The John and Thady Gosden trainee followed up that dirt win with a photo-finish victory in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at Meydan, but prior to the King George was a well-beaten third to St Mark’s Basilica in a tactically-run Eclipse that had only four starters.

The three-year-old filly Alcohol Free, one of the England’s top milers this term with victories in the Sussex (G1) and Coronation (G1), stretches out beyond a mile for the first time, while Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) winner Mac Swiney cuts back in trip after unplaced finishes in the Epsom Derby and Irish Derby (G1) over 1 1/2 miles.

Adding intrigue are two other members of the classic generation. Alenquer, the last horse to beat Adayar, in the Sandown Classic Trial (G3) in April, subsequently captured the King Edward VII (G2) at Royal Ascot. Most recently, he finished a distant third behind Irish Derby winner Hurricane Lane in the Grand Prix de Paris (G1).

The other three-year-old is Mohaafeth, the Hampton Court (G3) winner who missed by a neck last time in the course-and-distance York (G2), in which returning older rival Juan Elcano finished a nose ahead in second.