August 15, 2022

Neige Blanche lulls rivals to sleep in Red Carpet

Neige Blanche and jockey Juan Hernandez win the Red Carpet H. at Del Mar (© Benoit Photo)

A small field with no dedicated pacesetter was the recipe for a Thanksgiving Day upset in the $100,000 Red Carpet H. (G3) at Del Mar. The 11.40-1 Neige Blanche took full advantage of the opportunity to deny 3-10 favorite Luck.

Trained by Leonard Powell for the partnership of Madaket Stables, Laura de Seroux, Marsha Naify, and his wife, Mathilde Powell, Neige Blanche had a better resume than her odds implied. The French import prevailed in the May 8 Santa Barbara (G3) at Santa Anita as well as the Aug. 14 CTT and TOC S. over this course and 1 3/8-mile trip. But she had settled off the pace in both, and her attempts to lie closer early hadn’t been so productive, as evidenced by her most recent fourth in the Rodeo Drive (G1).

In the Red Carpet, though, Neige Blanche proved effective by going straight to the early lead for Juan Hernandez. Nicest missed the break and rushed up, only to defer to Neige Blanche who had things her own way for six furlongs. The daughter of Anodin (Goldikova’s full brother) enjoyed a stroll through fractions of :25.00, :50.60, and 1:16.35 on the firm turf.

Nicest then applied pressure, and Neige Blanche responded by upping the tempo to the mile in 1:40.25. Although Nicest put her head in front turning for home, Neige Blanche was holding something in reserve. She quickened herself to reassert on the inside in midstretch, and Nicest had no more to offer.

By that point, Luck had rallied into contention as the main danger. The favorite could not quite overcome the adverse race shape, and Neige Blanche did enough to keep her head in front in 2:15.45. Nicest weakened to third in the final yards, another half-length back, trailed by England’s Rose and Single Soul.

Neige Blanche rewarded her loyalists with $24.80 while boosting her bankroll to $599,700 from her 15-6-0-3 line.

“I thought I’d be running second behind someone,” Hernandez recapped. “She usually relaxes better if she’s got a horse in front of her. But today nobody wanted the front, and she seemed to be fine out there, so I just let her keep on going. When we were in the stretch she sensed that other horse (Luck) coming on the outside and she picked it up. She didn’t want to get beat.”

“We brought her here (from France) a year ago,” Powell said, “and she has been a really consistent, good horse. We tried some new tactics today, going to the lead, and it worked. I could see the first time past the stands the pace wasn’t that fast and I felt good. I had a moment of concern when she was headed in the stretch, but she dug in very gamely and got her head in front at the wire. I’m very proud of her.”

The winner of the 2020 Prix Cleopatre (G3) in her French finale, Neige Blanche was fourth in the Del Mar Oaks (G1) in her American bow and third in the Belmont Oaks (G1). Her victories in the Santa Barbara and CTT and TOC bookended a third in the June 13 Possibly Perfect S.

Bred by Ecurie de Sud, the chestnut Neige Blanche (“white snow”) gets her name as a twist on her dam, Bianca Neve (“Snow White” in Italian). That Muhtathir mare is a half-sister to Group 3 scorer Blanche.