Dual classic romper Snowfall added a third major to her resume in Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks (G1), solidifying favoritism for the Oct. 3 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1). So imperious was the Aidan O’Brien filly that it’s worth pondering the what-might-have-been if she’d tried Mishriff in Wednesday’s Juddmonte International (G1).
In that light, Snowfall likely has ambitions other than the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), for which the Yorkshire Oaks serves as a “Win and You’re In.” That’s earmarked for stablemate Santa Barbara.
Snowfall has been on a steep upward curve since her breakthrough score in the May 12 Musidora (G3) over this course. Subsequently the runaway winner of the June 4 Oaks (G1) by a record 16-length margin at Epsom, the Coolmore colorbearer turned the classic double in the July 17 Irish Oaks (G1) at the Curragh by 8 1/2 lengths.
The Yorkshire Oaks marked Snowfall’s first try versus older distaffers, but she rightly ranked as the 8-15 favorite. Her chief rival, the 3-1 Wonderful Tonight, would have posed more of a challenge on softish going. Lacking that prerequisite, Wonderful Tonight ran below her best, while the ground-impervious Snowfall kept rolling with her fourth straight victory.
Confidently handled by Ryan Moore, Snowfall bided her time near the back as her 150-1 stablemate La Joconde took care of the pacemaking job. Fellow Ballydoyle runner Divinely chased in second, with Wonderful Tonight a shade keen in third.
When Wonderful Tonight advanced at the top of the straight, Snowfall covered her move and struck the front faster than Moore expected. The daughter of Japan’s late, great Deep Impact widened her advantage to four lengths at the wire.
Underscoring the merit of that effort was her final time of 2:26.16, on a course riding the quicker side of good. According to James Willoughby on racingtv.com, Snowfall clocked the third-fastest Yorkshire Oaks ever.
Four-year-old Albaflora closed from last to take second at odds of 16-1. La Joconde, in defiance of her triple-digit price, kept on for third. Wonderful Tonight flattened out in fourth, but trainer David Menuisier was satisfied in the circumstances. Loving Dream, Divinely, and a tailed-off Eshaada completed the order of finish.
Snowfall remains unbeaten as a sophomore following a more subdued resume at two. Her best stakes result last season was a fourth in the Silver Flash (G3), and she was unplaced in the Debutante (G2), Moyglare Stud (G1), and Fillies’ Mile (G1). Yet her placement in those high-profile races, as well as her presence at Keeneland as an also-eligible for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), suggests some regard at Ballydoyle.
The Japanese homebred has a pedigree to savor. Snowfall’s dam, the Group 3-winning Galileo mare Best in the World, is a full sister to Found, heroine of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) and 2016 Arc.
Snowfall, who hopes to emulate her “aunt” in Paris, could run once more in the interim. The Sept. 11 Irish Champion (G1) is a possibility, but that’s the desired comeback spot for fellow dual classic star St Mark’s Basilica. O’Brien mentioned the Sept. 12 Arc Trials at ParisLongchamp as another option, where the Prix Vermeille (G1) would be her course-and-distance stepping stone.